South Pennines Park: The Government’s Response to the Glover Review

South Pennines Park welcomes the news that the Government’s plans to develop a stronger, coherent national network to guide a national landscapes partnership, inform policy and support delivery of these ambitions nationally, regionally and locally.

But Helen Noble, Chief Executive of South Pennines Park, says she wants to make sure that the Government’s thinking is not limited to the existing designated landscapes. She says: “There are very positive aspects to the Government’s plan but our message is simple: all landscapes have a value.”

Natural England has been charged with leading on a new Landscape Designation Programme, as such it will play a reinvigorated role in acting as a statutory advisor to the government.

Helen says: “We are keen to work in partnership with Natural England and others and for them to see South Pennines Park as a trailblazer and a pilot to model and champion a new and alternative approach to managing within this new national partnership network.

“Whilst the announcement works to benefit protected landscapes, we do feel there is an opportunity to benefit all landscapes. We believe the Government should look further and engage the innovators of other national landscapes, including those working outside the protected landscapes framework.

“If the Government wishes to set up a national landscape partnership it has to be inclusive and should recognise and cover other landscapes of significance — places like the South Pennines Park, that support, augment and sit alongside the National Parks and AONBs.”

Helen explains: “Undesignated landscapes like the South Pennines Park have immense value in helping to shape major infrastructure plans for economic, environmental and societal benefits and policy at both national and regional levels. The time is right to formally recognise their significance.

“A national landscape network offers a valuable opportunity to pool resources and collaboratively tackle issues such as poor air quality, flood mitigation, biodiversity loss, livelihood crises and human environmental damage.

“It should also recognise the value of working together, across sectors to support those charged with delivering vital ecosystem services and looking after our natural resources such as farmers in terms of the Government’s farming in Protected Landscape programme and DEFRA’s Agricultural Transition Plan.”

Helen points out that the World Economic Forum has identified 10 most severe risks over the next 10 years, five of which are environmental factors such as climate action failure, extreme weather, and biodiversity loss. She adds: “The pandemic has demonstrated how important landscapes are for our health and wellbeing, and in the face of current climate changes, it is key that communities have the resources and support to adapt accordingly.

“The South Pennines Park has a population of over 660,000, twice the size of all the 10 English national parks put together, with over 8 million people within hour an hour’s journey. We are truly accessible with great transport links (there are 53 railway stations in and around the Park), superb waterway networks and the largest density of Public Rights of Way – cycling, walking, riding etc in the country.

“There’s always room to enhance and improve and we are keen to explore use of digital access, but it is a great foundation. To develop a coherent, inclusive and diverse national network, the Government cannot leave it to the protected landscape network alone to deliver and champion these schemes.

“We are the corridors in between. We are the green connectors to the protected landscapes and the park on people’s doorstep. For cohesive collaboration to be effective, emphasis needs to be shifted to champion all voices, including those living, working and enjoying places outside protected landscapes boundaries. We should all be part of a national landscape network.”