Celebrating 70 Years of Protected Landscapes

This year we’re celebrating 70 years since the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act which followed the ground breaking Hobhouse Review of 1947. 

Seventy years on, sixteen National Trails have been designated across England and Wales as world-class long-distance paths helping people access, experience and enjoy our finest landscapes. These Trails are an integral part of the wider family of Protected Landscapes, although not formally recognised as such in statute. Currently traversing over 2,600 miles of coast and countryside, the creation of the England Coast Path in 2020 will significantly increase their reach – adding over 2,000 miles to the network and connecting many more communities.

The 70th anniversary will be marked by the completion of Julian Glover’s Review of Protected Landscapes, which started last year.  Interim findings of the review titled “National Parks and AONBs: review to consider the next steps for National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty sites in England” – have been published. Click here to read the letter published in July. 

The South West Coast Path Association (SWCPA) has coordinated a response from all the National Trails to this Review. This included meeting with Julian Glover and discussing the importance of the Trails in getting to and through our finest countryside and the wider health and wellbeing benefits the network offers. In addition to a response from the family of National Trails, we’ve submitted responses from the Association and the South West Coast Path Trails Partnership.

Creating a Voice for National Trails 

We’re working with the other National Trail Partnerships to articulate the benefits of the Trails network to help ensure we get our fair share of funding from Government. A Vision for the Trails is being developed showing how we help deliver the Government’s 25-year Environment Plan. Through this Vision we’re looking for recognition as part of the family of Protected Landscapes and parity in funding in the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review. Specifically, getting the same level of funding security as the National Parks and AONBs so we can plan for more than one year at a time (which has been the case over the past few years).

Last year, the family of National Trails commissioned a piece of work to look at how we can work together to get a clear strong voice for the Trails. Funded via Heritage Lottery, a report has just been published with the recommendation of setting up a body to represent the National Trails, preferably as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (the same legal structure as the SWCPA). We’re now working with the rest of the Trail family to help set this body up

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Published on: Sept. 10, 2019