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Coverage of Defra and Natural England’s announcement on protected landscapes

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An image of the Surrey Hill Area of Natural Beauty

There is positive coverage today following our joint announcement with Natural England, reporting that two of England’s most iconic landscapes are being considered to become new Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), alongside extensions to the Surrey Hills and Chilterns AONBs.

The announcement has been covered by the Daily Mail, Telegraph (p8), Evening Standard and Times (p21), and in key regional titles including Surrey Live, BBC Look North, BBC Three Counties, York Press, and Yorkshire Post. The Telegraph (p9) also runs a comment piece from the Secretary of State.

The Environment Secretary George Eustice published a Written Ministerial Statement this morning, and discussed the plans to drive nature recovery and people’s access to nature in protected landscapes on the Today Programme, Sky News, GB News, Times Radio, Talk Radio and LBC Radio.

BBC Breakfast also covered the news with a positive feature on the Yorkshire Wolds.

As part of the announcement, a new Farming in Protected Landscapes programme has also launched, which will provide funding to help farmers and other land managers in England based in National Parks or AONBs to make improvements to the natural environment and improve public access on their land.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

We have an opportunity to create a new chapter for our protected landscapes.

The work that we are going to take forward will contribute to our commitment to protect 30% of our land by 2030, and boost biodiversity, while designating more areas of the country for their natural beauty.

Our Farming in Protected Landscapes programme will provide additional investment to allow farmers to work in partnership with our National Park Authorities and AONB teams to improve public access.

Chair of Natural England Tony Juniper said:

Today’s announcement signals an ambitious step forward in growing our family of precious national landscapes, as well as protecting and improving the ones we have.

One thing that has become very apparent recently, and especially during the pandemic, is the enormous benefit people get from having access to beautiful nature-rich landscapes. These can, however, be hard for many people to reach, thereby raising the question of how more can be done to bring nature and people closer together. On this, we see huge opportunities arising from the establishment of the England Nature Recovery Network, of which wilder national landscapes will be a vital part.

As Government’s statutory landscape adviser, we look forward to continuing to work closely with Government, designated landscape bodies and stakeholders to deliver more for and through England’s diverse landscapes.

The proposals follow the independent review led by Julian Glover which called for action to make our protected landscapes greener, more beautiful and open to everyone.

The government will respond to the review’s recommendations in full later this year.

Julian Glover, who led the review, said:

Our national landscapes are the soul of England, beautiful, much-loved, and there for all of us, but they are also under pressure. We need to do a lot more for nature and more for people, too. Our report set out a plan for a brighter, greener future and I’m delighted that words are now being followed by action.

You can read the Natural England story for more details on the proposals for new protected areas across England here.

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  1. Comment by David Bowman posted on

    It’s a great irony that the government should propose protecting iconic landscapes whilst destroying so much ‘iconic’ countryside with HS2 that is financially out of control with a further injection of £1.5bn required.
    D. Bowman

  2. Comment by alan wightman posted on

    theecologist: "The environmental impacts of HS2 are enormous".

    "HS2 has a huge environmental price".

    It should never have been started and still time to have it scrapped,
    Testimony to this Government's failure of planning policies.