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National Park Authorities

Volume 639: debated on Thursday 26 April 2018

The Department is currently recruiting Secretary of State-appointed members for five national parks, including the Peak District. The full criteria have been published as part of the recruitment process. In 2018, these include a commitment to the statutory purpose of the national parks, an understanding of farming or environmental land management, an ability to champion national parks and an ability to provide advice and challenge.

National parks play an important role in protecting our areas of outstanding natural beauty, but they are excluded from any of the Government housing targets. That means ever-increasing house prices in those areas. Will any future appointments have this as part of their criteria, to ensure that we see some limited development in every village?

One of the criteria involves providing advice and challenge. It is important that we continue to build new homes right across the country, but we need to balance that with maintaining the protection of our most beautiful landscapes. My right hon. Friend might be aware that there is to be a national parks review, and I will certainly draw his concerns to the reviewer’s attention.

I do not know whether the right hon. Member for Derbyshire Dales (Sir Patrick McLoughlin) has a penchant for energetic hikes through the Derbyshire dales, but if so, I think we would all benefit from photographic evidence thereof.

Does the Minister share my sense of regret that not one member of the Yorkshire Dales national park authority lives in any of the great towns or cities West Yorkshire? Does she further agree that if there were more urban dwellers on national park authorities, they would be likely to take more notice of the recent report by the Campaign for National Parks urging more public transport from the towns and cities into the parks?

The national parks tend to reflect a more rural, countryside landscape than an urban environment. There are different ways to identify the conservation areas that are often prevalent across towns and cities, including those in West Yorkshire. I will share the hon. Gentleman’s concerns with the Minister responsible for this portfolio, my hon. Friend Lord Gardiner.