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National Parks (South Downs)

Volume 489: debated on Tuesday 17 March 2009

I beg leave to move a petition on behalf of the members and supporters of the South Downs Campaign, of whom there are more than 10,000 who are mostly my constituents. The petition is in order and has been checked in the Journal Office so I shall not delay the House by reading it all out, but I shall give a few words of very brief explanation. Seven or eight years ago, the Government proposed an area for a new national park in the south downs. The proposal was rigorously examined at a public inquiry and the inspector, for reasons best known to him, decided to cut part of the area out, much of which is in my constituency. That is why these supporters are up in arms. This is an area of outstanding natural beauty. If we are to have a national park, it should include all the area as originally envisaged. That is the petition of the supporters of the South Downs Campaign and I very much hope that the Government will listen to it and revert to their original plan.

Following is the full text of the petition:

[The Humble Petition of members and supporters of the South Downs Campaign,

Sheweth that the area of land known as the Western Weald, including the towns of Petersfield, Liss, Midhurst and Petworth and the surrounding villages, has been designated by the Countryside Agency (now Natural England) as being worthy of inclusion on the South Downs National Park, on the grounds of their great natural beauty, cultural and historical richness and close links with the chalk downs; further sheweth that the people living in that area and those who admire and love it are strongly desirous of it being so included.

Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House urges the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to confirm that the South Downs National Park shall include all of the said area and all such areas as have subsequently been considered worthy of inclusion.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.]