York & North Yorkshire

Hundreds march across countryside in National Park funding campaign

National Park walk in North Yorkshire
Image caption England's 10 National Parks range from Northumberland in the north to Dartmoor in the south

Hundreds have marched across the English countryside in protest against government cuts to National Park budgets.

The walks were organised by the Campaign for National Parks and online protest group 38 Degrees.

Two of England's 10 National Parks are in North Yorkshire.

The government department for the environment, Defra, said it had been asked to find savings but no decisions had been made.

Fiona Howie, of the Campaign for National Parks, said budgets had already been cut by up to 40% in real terms over the past five years.

10 National Parks in England

  • Northumberland
  • Lake District
  • North York Moors
  • Yorkshire Dales
  • Peak District
  • Norfolk Broads
  • New Forest
  • Dartmoor
  • Exmoor
  • South Downs
Image caption National Park authorities have already cut back on footpath maintenance, closed visitor centres and reduced funding for flooding, forestry, climate change, education and rangers
Image caption North York Moors National Park has suffered £2m cuts and 38 jobs have been lost, while the Yorkshire Dales National Park has had £1.5m cuts and 31 jobs lost

Defra said: "Despite reductions in Defra's overall budget, we have provided £260m to National Park authorities since 2010.

"Defra, like other unprotected government departments, has been asked to find savings to contribute to the government's commitment to eliminate the deficit.

"That process is underway and no decisions have been made."

A Yorkshire Dales National Park spokesman said "the authority was waiting with trepidation" for news of future cuts next week.

Ms Howie said: "National Parks are national assets. They contain some of England's most breathtaking scenery, rare wildlife and cultural heritage and must be conserved for the benefit of all, both now and in the future.

"There is real concern that Defra will have to make huge cuts to meet the government's £20bn savings plan over the lifetime of this parliament.

"That is why we are calling on the government to stop cutting funding and make sure the authorities have enough money to protect our most iconic landscapes."

Image caption In a statement, Defra said as an unprotected government department it had been asked to find savings
Image caption The North York Moors National Park opened in 1952 and covers 554 sq m (1436 sq km)

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