On 15 January 2022, Defra opened a consultation on its proposals for implementing the recommendations of the 2019 Landscape Review.
You can still read about the consultation at the Defra website: Government response to the Landscapes Review
Under the plans, a new National Landscapes Partnership would bring together all of those responsible for managing England’s National Parks and AONBs and stiffen up governance. The partnership would be tasked with targeting green funding, generating private income and boosting tourism, possibly through national campaigns.
AONBs could be renamed as part of a step change in their management, while a change to the legal footing of National Parks would focus on active nature recovery.
The government said this should be a core function of the landscapes, beyond simply protecting what is already there. It is considering how to reflect that aim in the design of farm support under ELMs.
Its blueprint calls for barriers to access to be removed and for the role of National Parks and AONBs in public wellbeing to be clearly referenced. Open access maps could be reviewed, and the government said that new powers may be needed to address any problems caused by extra visitors.
The NFU's Environment Forum chair Richard Bramley said any changes must recognise the role of farming in shaping some of the nation’s most beautiful areas.
“Farming is at the heart of our National Parks and AONBs,” he said.
He added that National Parks and AONBs needed to work with farmers to ensure “living, working landscapes that can both feed the nation and thrive with nature”. Measures that stifled farm business productivity could have “unintended consequences”, he warned.
He said the NFU would work to ensure viable farm businesses were “at the centre” of any decisions, while highlighting UK farming’s ambitions to reach net zero by 2040.
The consultation was split into four chapters:
- A more coherent national network
- Nature and climate
- People and place
- Supporting local delivery
Defra highlighted opportunities to bring protected landscapes together by:
- Unifying the current system
- Providing more consistent national leadership
- Setting a clear mission.