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Northumberland National Park Authority

Volume 487: debated on Monday 2 February 2009

In December 2007 my hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government announced that all district councils in Northumberland will be abolished on 1 April 2009 and the county council will continue as the sole local authority for the area. Given that Tynedale district council, Alnwick district council and Berwick-upon-Tweed borough council currently appoint members to the Northumberland National Park Authority, their abolition means that the membership arrangements, as set out under the National Park Authorities (England) Order 1996, need to be amended.

Accordingly, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State consulted on the proposals which would reflect the new local government structure while retaining the same overall size of authority and maintaining a strong local presence on the authority. It is proposed that the changes to the membership would take effect on 1 April 2009. They would be delivered through a statutory instrument—subject to negative resolution—made under the Environment Act 1995. The consultation ran from 23 June to 17 October 2008. The responses are available on Defra’s website at: http://www.defra.qov.uk/corporate/consult/northumberland-npa/index.htm

I have carefully considered the responses and have decided to pursue the changes proposed in the consultation which will reduce the local authority seats from 12 to six; increase the number of parish members from four to six; and increase the number of Secretary of State members from six to 10. Two of the extra four extra Secretary of State seats shall be taken by those who have experience of living or working in the National Park; one extra with experience of living or working in the Newcastle-Gateshead area; and one with particular knowledge of regional issues. The changes to membership of the Park Authority shall be made by means of a statutory instrument made under the Environment Act 1995 and laid before Parliament in early 2009, so that subject to Parliament’s consent, the new membership composition is active from 1 April 2009.