DARTMOOR National Park Authority Chair Pamela Woods has co-signed a letter, published today (7 December), calling for more government support for England’s National Parks.

The letter in The Times is signed by a coalition of National Park Authority leaders representing some of the nation’s most prized landscapes. In it, they set out the many and varied benefits protected landscapes offer to nature and people, their role in tackling climate change and the huge potential National Parks offer for expanding on the great work already achieved.

But, they say, there is a vital need for significant additional government resources to help them fulfil their potential.

The letter reads: ‘National Parks cover almost 10 per cent of England and attract more than 80 million visitors annually. These landscapes are not just beacons for conservation but are fundamental to supporting our health, education and well-being.

‘With Cop15 in mind (the 15th conference of the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity), where better to showcase innovation, inspire behavioural change and chart the route to net zero with nature than national parks?

‘Properly supported, we can expand our flagship climate change projects, such as peatland restoration and tree planting, to show that nature-based solutions and developing resilience to climate change go hand in hand.

‘At an overall cost of 80 pence per person each year, England’s national parks offer tremendous value for money. However, over the next three years, we face a real-terms reduction in our government grant of £15.7 million. Service cuts and a downsizing of operations are already a reality. Without significant additional government resources, we simply cannot fulfil our potential.’

The letter is signed by Andrew McCloy, chairman of National Parks England and of the Peak District National Park Authority (NPA); Jim Bailey, North York Moors NPA; Jean Davidson, Northumberland NPA; Neil Heseltine, Yorkshire Dales NPA; Tiffany Hunt, Lake District NPA; Robin Milton, Exmoor NPA; Gavin Parker, New Forest NPA; Vanessa Rowlands, South Downs NPA; Pamela Woods, Dartmoor NPA. Dartmoor’s National Park Grant has remained unchanged since 2020/21 and the outcome of the 2021 Spending Review is that it is indicated to remain so until 2024/25.

The current Medium Term Financial Plan indicates the Authority faces a financial deficit of circa £500,000 over the period 2022/23 – 2024/25 but could face wider funding gaps in the future. It has already instigated a review to identify where savings can be made, a process which is currently ongoing.

Speaking today, Dartmoor National Park Authority Chair Pamela Woods said: ‘Last year we celebrated 70 years of Dartmoor being designated as a National Park. In those 70 years, much has changed, but we know it’s as important today to access the outdoors and nature, as it was 70 years ago.

‘We believe our protected landscapes play a fundamental part in nature recovery, green growth, climate action and improved health and wellbeing. Everyone would benefit from that, but it can only be achieved through a fairly funded, long-term package from government which would provide some certainty both for existing services and for the plans we would like to develop.’