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National Parks: South Downs

Volume 714: debated on Thursday 12 November 2009


My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Hilary Benn) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Further to my Written Ministerial Statement of 31 March 2009 (col. 53WS), I am pleased to announce that I am today confirming the South Downs National Park (Designation) Order 2002 and the South Downs National Park (Designation) Variation Order 2004, with modifications in both cases, thus creating the South Downs National Park, to take effect from 31 March 2010.

I will also be confirming the East Hampshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Revocation) Order 2002 and the Sussex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Revocation) Order 2002, which will take effect so as to coincide with the national park coming into being. The South Downs National Park as now indicated will cover over 99 per cent of the land formerly designated as areas of outstanding natural beauty, and it would be inappropriate to have concurrent national landscape designations.

I have carefully considered the inspector’s reports on the public inquiries and his latest report on the public hearing into the South Downs National Park (Designation) Order 2002, as varied, made by the Countryside Agency under the provisions of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.

In line with the inspector’s recommendations, I have decided that the area now proposed for designation meets the criteria for a national park, taking account of the modifications made, and that it should be managed by a national park authority, to be established under the provisions of the Environment Act 1995.

Full details of the South Downs National Park boundary will be released in my decision letter today, a copy of which, together with an illustrative map, will appear on the Defra website. Copies of the illustrative map and my decision letter will also be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

I propose to bring forward an order under the provisions of the Environment Act 1995 to create a National Park authority. I expect the new authority to be established on 1 April 2010 and to take on its full range of statutory powers and functions from 1 April 2011.