Dorset Council - Briefing note on the proposed Dorset National Park

The Dorset Council has declared a climate emergency. The next Council meeting will discuss climate change and also preparations for the Local Plan required by 2024. In both these areas, the proposed Dorset National Park would be a close, supportive partner for the DC, and bring additional resources and wider benefits for all rural Dorset, regardless of the area of the National Park.

 

The Proposed Dorset National Park

 

The Dorset National Park Proposal was submitted in response to Natural England’s 2103 Designations Review. Following the provision of substantial supporting evidence, NE included the Dorset NP on a shortlist of proposals and planned an initial on-the-ground assessment in Autumn 2018. In May 2018, following the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, DEFRA announced the Glover Review of Designated Landscapes (DLs) with terms of reference which include possible new NPs including a Dorset National Park. The Review’s report is expected in autumn this year, the 70th anniversary of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. Dorset is widely considered the outstanding candidate for National Park designation, with its exceptional landscapes, biodiversity, heritage and recreational opportunities. But the Cotswolds AONB has also declared its ambition to be England’s next National Park.

 

The former DCC, following scrutiny of the NP proposal, concluded that the NP could make a positive contribution to the Council’s corporate objectives for a prosperous and healthy Dorset. Purbeck DC, following its scrutiny process, saw a NP offering opportunities and benefits for Dorset, including additional resources, the promotion of affordable homes, boosting higher-value tourism, and the ability to manage recreational and tourism pressures. Weymouth & Portland Borough Council in January 2019 agreed a wide-ranging motion in support of a Dorset National Park.

 

Dorset National Park – a Close, Supportive Partner for the Dorset Council; Increased Resources; Seamless Planning

 

A National Park would be a close and supportive partner for the Dorset Council and our communities, working on a shared agenda to benefit all of Dorset. Since National Parks are funded by central Government and are not a call on local people or businesses, a National Park would bring additional resources to support seamless, responsive and efficient local planning through a shared planning team, affordable homes for local people, rural transport, health and wellbeing and care of the environment. A National Park could be a delivery arm for the Dorset Council on the environment, biodiversity and heritage, and promote eco/heritage/cultural and sustainable year-round tourism. The additional government funding would free up Council time and resources for other pressing priorities. (The South Downs National Park, designated in 2010, secured over £100 million in its first five years.) A National Park would help ensure a thriving, successful, healthy and sustainable future for Dorset’s communities, economy, environment, wildlife and heritage.

 

Dorset National Park - promoting sustainability and helping Dorset respond successfully to climate change

 

A Dorset National Park, in partnership with Councils and communities, would make an important contribution to sustainability and Dorset’s response to climate change. It would bring additional resources to invest in and enhance our environment and natural capital, Dorset’s greatest economic asset worth some £1-4 bn a year, but which (as research shows) have for many decades been degraded and continue to deteriorate. A National Park would create opportunities to grow the green economy and help to make Dorset a leader in this field.

 

The South Downs National Park places sustainability at the heart of all it does. It has, for example: a climate change strategy; strategies for sustainable transport and sustainable tourism; a Local Plan in which the environment, biodiversity and natural capital are an integral part. The NP promotes improved physical and mental wellbeing through contact with nature and contributes to environmental education. It has farming and land management programmes and policies, supported by the CLA and NFU, which promote and support environmentally positive farming including landscape-scale conservation through farm clusters involving two-thirds of South Downs farmers. It has planning policies and a Local Plan which facilitate innovative farm diversification proposals, and schemes and resources to promote and enhance woodlands, to improve water quality and supply, and to promote local foods and other products and local supply-chains. All of these benefit farmers and landowners, who are proactively consulted and informed by the SDNP through a South Downs Land Management Group of which all are members. Dorset’s National Park should have similar aspirations and bring expertise and resources to build on the best that is being achieved elsewhere.

 

The South Downs National Park is a partner in the UN Biosphere Region for Brighton & Hove and the Downs, thus promoting sustainability and the improvement of water quality and supply, onshore and offshore, from the catchments on the South Downs, through the conurbation, to the marine environment. That NP works with its neighbour conurbation to understand, enjoy and value the environment and improve sustainability, as a Dorset NP would work with the BCP conurbation to further its aspiration to be a “green city by the sea.” A Dorset National Park could be the first to have an offshore role thus better coordinating on-shore and off-shore designations and plans.

 

Conclusion

 

A National Park would be a close and supportive partner for the Dorset Council and our communities, bringing additional resources and working on a shared agenda to benefit all of Dorset. It would help ensure a living, working, thriving, successful, sustainable and resilient future for Dorset’s communities, economy, environment and wildlife. The Dorset NP Team encourage all who care about Dorset’s environment and the future of our communities, economy, environment and wildlife to support and help secure Dorset’s long-overdue National Park. We look forward to working in a close and constructive partnership with the Dorset Council for a successful and sustainable future. We are ready to assist in any way including by providing further briefing for Members.

 

Please see the National Park website www.dorsetnationalpark.com for more information including:

 

 

The Dorset National Park Team

 

June 2019

 

 

 

 

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