An Input to Planet Purbeck
An Input to Planet Purbeck
The Dorset National Park Team welcomes both Planet Purbeck and the Dorset Climate Action Network and we look forward to playing our part in both.
The Climate and Ecological Emergencies, swiftly and rightly acknowledged by Dorset Council, underline the need for a Dorset National Park. As Dorset Council recognises in the reports which they have commissioned and published, it’s easy to be complacent about Dorset’s environment and wildlife. Dorset is seen as a relatively wildlife rich county. But the reality is that Dorset has for decades seen environmental degradation and serious loss of wildlife, and this continues. Britain is one of the most nature-depleted countries on earth, and Dorset’s environment and natural capital have not escaped the impact of this.
The AONB Partnership does some important work. But they have acknowledged that their resources and effectiveness are limited in the face of the major challenges posed by Dorset’s remarkable environment and heritage. The AONB Management Plan states that parts of the landscape are in a poor state. Many habitats are degraded. There has been heavy loss of wildlife. Some of Dorset’s rivers and catchments are in a poor state, with implications for water quality and for our harbours and seas.
If the Dorset AONB were upgraded to a National Park, how would this help? In a nutshell, a National Park would have the remit and bring the additional resources and expertise to make a real difference. Its responsibilities, in statute, would be to conserve and enhance our environment, wildlife and heritage, to promote the health and well-being of those who live, work in or visit Dorset, and to foster the economic and social wellbeing and vitality of our communities, including a duty to respond to local housing needs. And a National Park would do all this in partnership with the Dorset Council (which would continue to be the lead local authority for rural Dorset), and in partnership with communities, businesses and others, including organisations here this evening.
So a National Park would play a key part in addressing the triple emergencies of climate, nature and health. It would work with Dorset Council and others to develop and implement sustainable policies eg for transport, tourism, energy, planning and development. A National Park would invest and attract investment in sustainable jobs and skills and create a range of opportunities including in the green/blue economy. It would help farmers and land managers to secure new farm funding which will be focused on the provision of public benefit, helping them to thrive, and boosting Dorset’s natural capital and ecosystems services – in plain English clean air, healthy rivers and harbours, vital biodiversity and wildlife, carbon capture in healthy soils and woodlands, promote good Dorset foods and products, and access to green space for health and wellbeing.
As Michael Dower, with his long experience of countryside management, has said:
The scale of the challenge of stewardship of this great area demands the substantial resources of funding and expertise which can be marshalled by a National Park.
A Dorset National Park offers an exciting, greener future. We urge everyone, including the Dorset Council, to be on the front foot in pressing the Government, as part of its manifesto commitment, to establish a new National Park here in Dorset and as soon as possible.