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National Parks

Volume 450: debated on Monday 16 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made with the process of considering the establishment of a national park for the South Downs; when he expects to be able to announce a decision; and if he will make a statement. (93282)

The South Downs national park designation process is on hold, following the High Court judgment made last November on a challenge by Meyrick Estate Management Ltd. to the New Forest National Park Designation Order.

The judgment has implications for the proposed South Downs national park, as it potentially changes the way in which the statutory criteria for national park status have generally been understood and interpreted since the 1950s.

DEFRA’s appeal against the judgment is due to be heard by the Court of Appeal on 1-2 November. Only when that is resolved will the Secretary of State be able to decide how to re-start the South Downs process, including whether or not to invite further representations.