The New Forest National Park goes ahead...
(Government press releases)
The go-ahead and creation of the New Forest National Park was announced in a couple of Government news releases, both of which can be read below, from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Press release #1 - "Minister says Yes to New Forest National Park"
(28th June 2004)
Alun Michael, the Rural Affairs Minister, today announced his decision that the New Forest will become a National Park. The decision is in line with recommendations made by the Inquiry Inspector after a seven-month public inquiry.
Mr Michael commented:
"I have carefully considered the Inquiry Inspector's report. I agree with his recommendations that the New Forest meets the criteria and purposes of a National Park and should be managed by a National Park Authority established under the Environment Act 1995.
"Our National Parks have a vital role conserving our natural heritage, but conservation alone is not enough - the Parks must balance environmental priorities with those of communities. Today's decision will help protect the unique character of the New Forest - valued by so many people, and acknowledged as a national treasure for nearly a thousand years - whilst recognising that it is a working, living place with social and economic needs".
The Inquiry Inspector has recommended changes to the boundary specified in the New Forest National Park (Designation) Order 2002 made by the Countryside Agency under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. The changes involve the exclusion of some areas within the Countryside Agency's proposed boundary, and the addition of three small areas outside it. The Minister is minded to accept the additions, expanding one of them to take in a further area of land. In addition, he has decided to retain two areas within the park that the Inspector recommended should be excluded.
Under the provisions of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 there will be a further period of consultation on the proposed additions before the Designation Order is confirmed. Details of where the information can be viewed and how objections and representations can be made will be advertised in the national and local press.
When the boundary is finalised, Mr Michael will announce the confirmation of the Designation Order and the date for the creation of the New Forest National Park.
Notes for editors:
1. National Parks in England and Wales are designated under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. The Countryside Agency has a statutory duty under the 1949 Act to designate those areas of the countryside which it considers to meet the criteria (as defined in the Act) for National Park status. National Park Authorities are established to manage National Parks under the Environment Act 1995. The statutory powers of the Verderers and Forestry Commission under the New Forest Acts of 1877 to 1970 will remain in force regardless of the outcome of the designation process.
2. In 1999 Ministers asked the Countryside Agency to consider designation of the New Forest as a National Park. As part of its consideration the Agency held working groups to look at various issues such as governance and planning. It also conducted a non-statutory public consultation exercise and a statutory consultation with the local authorities on the boundary and administrative arrangements before submitting the Order to the Secretary of State in February 2002.
3. It is a statutory requirement under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 for a public inquiry to be called if any local authority maintains an objection to a Designation Order. With objections from seven local authorities, an inquiry was held from October 2002 to April 2003 to hear objections and representations received to the New Forest National Park (Designation) Order 2002. Comments on the Agency's advice to Government on how a New Forest National Park Authority could operate to take into account the special characteristics of the Forest under existing National Park policy and legislation were also heard at the inquiry.
4. In the form now proposed, the New Forest National Park would be England's smallest National Park at 571 square km with an estimated population of approximately 38,000.
5. The current National Parks in England are Dartmoor, Exmoor, the Lake District, the North York Moors, Northumberland, the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales. Each of them has a National Park Authority, which looks after conservation issues and helps people to understand and enjoy their special qualities, as well as seeking to foster the social and economic well-being of communities the National Parks. The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads has a similar status to a National Park but is designated under separate legislation.
6. National Park budgets come from the Government. The majority of National Park Authority members are drawn from the local authorities and parish councils within the Park, with the remainder appointed by the Secretary of State through an open recruitment exercise.
Press release #2 - "New Forest National Park becomes a reality"
(24th February 2005)
March 1st 2005 is the birth date of the New Forest National Park, Alun Michael Rural Affairs Minister confirmed today. The New Forest becomes the newest member of the National Parks family and the first in England since the 1980s.
The decision to designate the New Forest as a National Park was announced in June 2004, following a seven month public inquiry. Since then, further hearings have been held to determine the exact boundary of the Park, and March 1st marks its formal designation.
Mr Michael commented:
"This will be an historic day. After 900 years of special recognition, and 50 years after it was first considered for designation, the New Forest will finally have National Park status.
"It takes its place alongside areas such as Dartmoor and the Lake District in the first rank of our protected areas. Like the existing Parks it will have a vital role in conserving our natural and cultural heritage, and in balancing environmental priorities with those of communities. It needs to protect its unique character - valued by so many people, and acknowledged as a national treasure for nearly a thousand years - whilst remaining a working, living place with social and economic needs."
Notes for editors:
1. The New Forest National Park is England's smallest National Park by area at around 570 square km, but one of the largest by population, with an estimated resident population of around 34,000.
2. Subject to Parliamentary approval, the Authority will have 22 members, of whom 12 will be drawn from the local authorities and parish councils within the Park, and the remainder appointed by the Secretary of State through an open recruitment exercise. The Members will be formally appointed in March and the National Park Authority will come into being on 1 April. An interim Chief Executive and a small Establishment Team are working to set up the Authority. More information about the next steps may be found on their website: www.newforestnpa.gov.uk.
3. A leaflet explaining changes in planning rules is being launched by New Forest District Council, to coincide with the designation of the new national park on 1 March. It sets out in a non-technical way the main changes in the planning rules and advises residents and businesses where they can seek more help if necessary. Leader of New Forest District Council Melville Kendal said: "New Forest District Council will work closely with the new national park authority to ensure the smooth introduction of new regulations, on this historic day." The leaflet is available from all New Forest District Council officer or by logging onto the website www.nfdc.gov.uk and following the link to planning.
4. National Park budgets come from the Government. The New Forest National Park Authority will receive around £3.5 million a year in grant from Defra when it takes on its full responsibilities in 2006/07. On top of this it will receive £200,000 per year to pay Sustainable Development Fund grants which aim to develop and test new ways of achieving a more sustainable way of living in the Parks, whilst enhancing and conserving local culture, wildlife, landscape, land use and communities. Actual funding in its preparatory year (2005/06), when it will be recruiting staff, securing offices and building up its capacity, will reflect its lower spending requirements during this period and will be agreed with the Authority once it is established.
5. The Confirmation Order is being placed on deposit in local authority offices in the New Forest for a minimum of 28 days. Under Part III of the First Schedule to the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, any person wishing to question the validity of the Order may make an application to the High Court within the 6 weeks (from 14 March to 29 April) when the Order is on deposit, following the publication of the confirmation notice in local and national press. The application must be made on the grounds that the Order is not within the powers of this Act or that any requirement of this Act, or of any regulation made under this Act, has not been complied with in relation to the making or confirmation of the Order.