Dartmoor proposals 'as welcome as European Super League'

Torbay Weekly

Plans for a National Landscape Service to replace Dartmoor National Park are about as welcome as the ill-fated European Super League proposal, the leader of Teignbridge District Council has said.

As part of a wholesale change across England, it has been suggested the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) could bring all of the statutory functions and responsibilities of England’s protected landscapes together into a single organisational structure.

The controversial proposals appeared to suggest that scrapping the national park authorities for Exmoor and Dartmoor and handing control to a national body in London were being considered by ministers.

Cllr John Nutley, a councillor on Teignbridge and a member of the Dartmoor National Park Authority, said:” Dartmoor celebrates its 70th birthday as a National Park this year and yet, it could also be the year the Government effectively signs the death warrant to one of our country’s greatest natural and most enjoyed assets.

“Who hasn’t enjoyed letterboxing, walking, hiking or simply admiring the view over a picnic with the family. I am tremendously worried that a National Landscape Service will simply hollow out any local oversight and management of our precious Park and lead to anonymous people no-one knows in London deciding what’s best.”

Around 40 per cent of Dartmoor is within the Teignbridge district, and Devon’s Liberal Democrats have put motion to the next Devon County Council meeting calling on the Government not to proceed with a National Landscape Service or take any step which will remove local engagement and involvement in our precious national parks.

Cllr Alan Connett, leader of Teignbridge District Council and the Liberal Democrat group at Devon County Council, said: ”Plans for a National Landscaping Service are about as welcome as the proposals for football’s European Super League and I hope they will be just as short lived.”

His motion, which goes before Devon County Council today (Thursday, April 29) says: “Our precious national parks, including Dartmoor and Exmoor, are loved by millions and used by many thousands of people.

“The Local Park Authorities comprise Local representatives who know and serve the community and keep Local oversight of Dartmoor National Park and Exmoor National Park but a National Landscapes Service that effectively replaces individual National Park Authorities would not be a positive reform.

“This council urges Government not to proceed with a National Landscape Service or to take any step which will remove local engagement and involvement in our precious national parks and Council instructs the Chief Executive to write urgently to the Prime Minister and local Members of Parliament serving Devon and Somerset setting out our support for our local National Parks.”

Cllr Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s cabinet member for environmental services, had previously said that if there was anything in the Government’s response to the Glover Report that legally joined up the National Parks and centralised control, then Devon would be opposing those changes.