The Glover review found that nature has been in long-term decline in England’s protected landscapes, and they are not contributing as they could to restore nature and respond to climate change. The review report sets out 27 proposals for change which the Government has now responded to with its own proposals.
One of the main Government proposals is for the creation of “a new national landscapes partnership to build on the existing collaboration between National Parks England and the National Association for AONBs, complemented by roles for the National Trails and National Parks Partnerships.” This is in response to calls for a new National Landscapes Service which the Government does not support owing to the “already complex governance system.”
Defra has also proposed a rebrand of AONBs, with a possible name change to ‘national landscapes’. This will sit alongside a review of their purpose, and an alignment of a single set of statutory purposes for both National Parks and AONBs. The Government recognised that “at present, under their current statutory purposes, level of protection and management, protected landscapes cannot be said to contribute towards 30 by 30 in their entirety, and they must do more to drive the recovery of nature.” In response, proposals have been put forward to strengthening their purpose so that:
- a core function of protected landscapes should be to drive nature recovery
- a revised purpose should be more specific with regards to nature outcomes and explicitly mention biodiversity
- the principle of natural capital should also be included to capture the societal value of nature in our protected landscapes and encompass a broader range of ecosystem services.
Defra also committed to bringing forward a new national landscape strategy that will provide clearer strategic direction for protected landscapes.
By January 2023, new ambitious outcomes will be agreed for the role of protected landscapes in delivering on the government’s goals for nature recovery and climate. Natural England will monitor and evaluate progress against the key indicators and outcomes and will also support individual protected landscapes to translate these targets into their management plans.
The response also recognises the need to improve access and support local economies and sets out a series of changes to enhance and expand community engagement, and reward farmers for offering enhanced access.
Finally, the response considers governance arrangements, such as ensuring boards are running effectively by setting clear performance standards, increasing partnerships with specialist expertise and local voices, and improving the Secretary of State public appointments process to increase diversity of applicants. The response also looks to scale-up private financing of protected landscapes.
The Government is seeking views on the proposals set out in response to the review, including how AONB teams can have a stronger role in the planning system. You can submit your views here until 9 April. We will be responding to this consultation so if you would like to contribute to a CIEEM response, please contact email@example.com. Following the 2019 Glover Review, we set out our views on next steps in a position statement.