New proposals: A threat to Welsh National Parks

Posted by Elfyn Jones on 30/05/2017
Yr Wyddfa - a protected place or a development site?
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In March, the BMC and other environmental and recreational groups raised concerns about proposals regarding the future of Welsh National Parks. The Welsh Government is debating these proposals on 6 June. Your help is needed to safeguard National Parks in Wales; use your voice to protect the family of National Parks. Please act before 6 June and read on to see how you can help.

For some time, the BMC and other bodies have been raising concerns about Welsh Government’s plans to create new legislation on National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) in Wales.  

In March, we asked you to intervene at short notice when we saw a leaked draft version of the Future Landscapes Wales (FLW) report. Disturbingly the report emphasised the importance of enabling development whilst containing no reference whatsoever to either the conservation purpose of National Parks or their role in promoting the quiet enjoyment of these special places.  

Your response was magnificent. Within 24 hours, the scheduled Welsh Assembly debate was postponed: your efforts alerted Assembly Members to the fact that they were being asked to debate something so important without having even had the chance to see the FLW report.

As the story broke in the media, Welsh Government was quick to say that this was ‘only a draft’ of the report. Now Welsh Government has published the final version FLW Finalised Report (English) and it is nearly identical to that draft. Apart from being full of jargon and badly drafted, the final version continues to give a deliberately false account of the important Marsden report which Welsh Government had previously side-lined.

The Marsden report said we must keep a key conservation safeguard known as the Sandford Principle, so that National Parks and AONBs continue to be properly protected and managed for their natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage. None of these concepts can be found anywhere in the FLW report.

WATCH: Alex Honnold's Welsh Slate Experience on BMC TV

What happens if we do nothing?

If the Future Landscapes Wales proposals go forward unchallenged, we will be heading not only for the break-up of the UK family of National Parks, as we have known them for over 60 years, but also that the core purpose of these cherished places will change.  Without a clear restatement of the Sandford Principle, and without a clear commitment to the conservation of landscape, natural beauty, and wildlife, the National Parks in Wales could be relegated to a lower tier of Protected Landscapes as defined internationally by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). Welsh National Parks could become “hub” areas for the development of intensive tourism, renewable energy, and economic development, at the cost of protected landscapes and the promotion of quiet enjoyment that the national parks were established for.  

We can’t let this happen. Our National Parks surely mean more than a badge and a marketing brand.

Action is needed before 6 June!

Actions if you live in Wales:

Write to your five Assembly Members (that’s your constituency Member and all four of your regional Members) and ask them to help.

Click on this map to get the email addresses of your Assembly Members. 

Tell them:

  • Why you love the National Parks of Wales – Snowdonia, Brecon Beacons and Pembrokeshire Coast and how you benefit from their existence
  • That you hope they will be seen to stand up for National Parks in the debate on 6 June, which will be broadcast live on senedd.tv

Ask them to:

  • Stand up for proper protection, management, and resources for National Parks and AONBs in the debate on 6 June
  • Make landscape, natural beauty, wildlife, quiet enjoyment and cultural heritage central to the debate
  • Insist on a Sandford-type conservation principle so that, when there is an unavoidable conflict of purposes, conservation has the higher priority
  • Insist on full public consultation for any proposed changes to the purposes of National Parks
  • Point out that key conservation and recreation organisations, including the BMC, the Wildlife Trusts, Alliance for National Parks (Cymru) and many others are unable to support the FLW report because it excludes the Sandford Principle.

Make your email short and positive. Assembly Members are genuinely extremely busy people and sort emails are more likely to be taken notice of. 

Actions if you live outside Wales:

Write to Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs  at Correspondence.Lesley.Griffiths@gov.wales and copy your message to the other party spokespeople for environment – Simon Thomas (Plaid Cymru) Simon.Thomas@assembly.wales and  David Melding (Conservative) David.Melding@assembly.wales.

Tell her: How much and why National Parks in Wales matter to you.

Ask her: To show that she understands the importance of protecting, conserving and managing our last big areas of unspoilt countryside. Ask her to move beyond the narrow and old-fashioned view that getting more benefits from National Parks means ‘freeing them up’ to more development and more concrete. 

Thank you so much for doing your bit to protect National Parks.


The Access and Conservation Trust

The BMC's charity  the BMC Access & Conservation Trust  promotes sustainable access to cliffs, mountains and open countryside by facilitating education and conservation projects across the United Kingdom and Ireland.

By educating climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers to enjoy outdoor recreation while minimising their impact on the landscape, conserving the UK’s upland resources, and campaigning for improved access rights, ACT enables future generations to continue to enjoy outdoor activities and the physical, mental and social benefits they bring to individual lives and society in general.

READ: More about the recent work of ACT

WATCH: What is Mend Our Mountains on BMC TV

How to donate:

  1. Donate online via PayPal

  2. Donate when you renew your BMC membership

  3. Donate by text message


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1) Anonymous User
30/05/2017
You can download the Future Landscapes: Delivering for Wales report from:

http://gov.wales/topics/environmentcountryside/consmanagement/review-designated-landscapes-wales/?lang=en

The written statement on publication of this report by Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs is at:

http://gov.wales/about/cabinet/cabinetstatements/2017/designatedlandscapes/?lang=en
2) Anonymous User
01/06/2017
Posted emails to all 5 Mid Wales members encouraging them to support Conservation and the Sandford principle.
3) Anonymous User
04/06/2017
It's a shame that the BMC has chosen to present such an imbalanced, ill-informed argument. Poorly written it may be, but the FLW report makes important points about the need to take account of the needs of local people, and to think in wider terms of sustainable development. The two Scottish national parks already have this as a statutory aim, so claims that the Welsh initiative will break-up the UK family of national parks strike me as rather far-fetched. It makes no sense to claim that “the National Parks in Wales could be relegated to a lower tier of Protected Landscapes as defined internationally by the IUCN”. All of the UK’s national parks already belong to this classification (Category V: Protected Landscape). None are classified by the IUCN as National Parks (Category II) because the landscapes are too much modified, both past and present, by humans. Indeed, precisely because people live and work in these landscapes, the IUCN best practice guidelines argue for a revised model of management that has much in common with the FLW proposals:
https://portals.iucn.org/library/sites/library/files/documents/pag-009.pdf
See pages 12-14. Whatever the merits of the different arguments, the "narrow, old-fashioned view" is not greater emphasis on development as Elfyn Jones suggests - it is the proposal that we must stick to the original idea, defined by outsiders, that it is only the scenery that matters in national parks.
BMC member N387002
4) Anonymous User
07/06/2017
The outcome of the debate is reported at:

http://senedd.assembly.wales/ieIssueDetails.aspx?IId=19159&Opt=3

An amended motion was agreed that adds as a new point at the end of the motion: "Believes that any change in the legislation governing National Parks should be taken through the Assembly as primary legislation."

However, another amendment that "Regrets that the report does not deal with the Sandford Principle as set out in the Environment Act 1995." was not agreed.

5) Anonymous User
08/06/2017
Extracts from the 6 June debate (from 15:39 to 16:42) are included in BBC News live reporting at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-wales-politics-40112136

Amongst the quotes, note the statement:

"It isn't my report," stresses Environment and Rural Affairs Secretary Lesley Griffiths.
Addressing the point that the report makes no mention of the Sandford Principle, which was raised by several AMs, she says "we have our own principles here in Wales".


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