The campaigning charity the Campaign for National Parks (CNP) has reacted with dismay to Monday’s announcement by Defra that the English National Park Authorities will receive a 21.5% cash reduction over the next four years, which, when considering inflation amounts to a 28.5% reduction.
The Park Authorities must make 5.4% cuts in 2011-12, but the figures provided for the three years from 2012-2014 are only indicative and will not be confirmed for some time.
In reacting to Monday’s announcement, Ruth Chambers, CNP’s Head of Policy, says ‘21.5% may not sound so bad in the context set by the government’s plans to make overwhelming funding cuts across the board. But when inflation and the impact of secondary funding cuts are taken into account, Monday’s announcement will have a long-lasting and detrimental effect on the excellent work that these bodies do to look after National Parks for the nation.
‘The funding uncertainty for 2012-2014 will present budget planning challenges for the Authorities but it is also an opportunity to explore ways to minimise the impacts of funding cuts in future years and to discuss other possible funding sources. Surely the Parks, which are Britain’s breathing places and vital to our national well-being, deserve funding from across government, not just Defra?’.
Helen Jackson, CNP’s Chief Executive, added, ‘National Park Authorities are important rural employers and without a doubt funding cuts on this scale will lead to job losses and a reduction in services. They play a vital role in supporting local communities and this work, alongside their conservation responsibilities, means that they are powerful advocates for sustainable development.
We are worried that some of the difficult choices that Park Authorities will now be faced with to make ends meet will affect their role in championing sustainability and result in less activity on key work such as education, outreach and raising public awareness about key environmental challenges such as climate change’.