Snowdonia National Park budget slashed again

Champions of National Parks in England were celebrating two weeks ago with the Chancellor’s announcement of a flat budget for National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Campaign for National Parks said :  ‘We’re absolutely delighted that today [25th Nov] in the spending review Chancellor George Osborne has protected over £350 million funding for English National Parks, AONBs and forests.’

Today in Wales the situation could not be more different.  There will be no Christmas celebrations for those who value our National Parks.  Budgets for 2016/17 confirmed the worst fears with Welsh National Parks facing 5.3{cfe7b007ef2d97d6c94c66bdf5fd69182957ee376eb8b20ce6b541889da3df98} cuts, on top of savage cuts in the last two years.

John Harold , Director of the Snowdonia Society says:

“National Park Authorities are being singled out for punishing cuts, compared to the other Local Authorities in Wales, which face cuts of around 2{cfe7b007ef2d97d6c94c66bdf5fd69182957ee376eb8b20ce6b541889da3df98}.  This demonstrates that Welsh Government doesn’t understand what National Parks are for, nor what they do for Wales.  Worse still, they seem not to care.”

Carl Sergeant, Welsh Government Minister for Natural Resources

“Carl Sargeant, Welsh Government Minister for Natural Resources, deserves a Christmas present – or rather he deserves a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Present.  He needs to know that, like Tiny Tim, National Parks won’t survive the twin threats of Ignorance and Want unless he changes his ways.”

In Snowdonia the National Park Authority is doing more and more with less and less.  This week, for example, saw Snowdonia recognised as the world’s 10th International Dark Sky Reserve.  That status will be good for Snowdonia’s landscape and wildlife and fantastic for the local economy.  But it represents a vast amount of work – past, present, and future – by the Park Authority.

John Harold, Director of conservation charity the Snowdonia Society said:

“If an austerity-driven government can find the cash to maintain National Parks in England, what on earth is Welsh Government playing at? The financial cracks are starting to show.  Welsh Government has had extraordinary value for its grant this year.  Welsh Government needs to wake up to how much National Parks deliver across the board on biodiversity, on health, on well-being and on local sustainable economic development.”

Another difference between England and Wales was highlighted by the Chancellor’s Budget announcement that – “National Parks will be given legal flexibilities to allow them to build sustainable, long-term revenue streams and boost growth in rural areas.”

“We’ve just had a long-overdue report from the Marsden Review of Designated Landscapes in Wales – which advocates that just such powers be given to National Parks in Wales.  Instead Welsh Government has set up yet another panel to kick this excellent report into the long grass, meanwhile undermining National Parks, threatening to remove planning powers and slashing budgets.”

And what does the Snowdonia Society want for Christmas?

“Well a new Minister would be nice, but we’ll make do with any sign that Welsh Government is taking interest in the value of National Parks, rather than just the cost.”

Thanks to J&M Sherry for the picture.

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