Last edited 27 Dec 2021

National Parks


[edit] Overview

National Parks (NP) are nationally-protected areas in the UK, protected because of their countryside, wildlife and cultural heritage value. Villages, towns and farms within the boundary of National Parks are also protected.

The statutory function of National Parks is to:

The National Park network is part of a ‘family’ of 113,000 globally protected areas and part of the European EUROPARC Federation.

[edit] Qualities

Each of the National Parks have ‘special qualities’ which include:

[edit] Locations

The first National Park was created in 1951. There are currently 15 National Parks in the UK which includes ten in England, two in Scotland and three in Wales:

[edit] Designation

National Parks are designated under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 with further protection provided by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

In addition, the National Planning Policy Framework states that local authorities should conserve landscapes and scenic beauty in National Parks.

[edit] Ownership, management and funding

The majority of the land within a National Park is owned by private landowners, which includes organisations such as the National Trust.

The National Park Authorities are independent bodies, responsible for managing the parks and are staffed by both paid and voluntary members. The majority of paid staff work in offices, visitor centres and field stations. Funding for National Parks is is provided by central government with some additional funds from the European Union.

[edit] Development and planning

The National Park Authorities are the local planning authority for the area they cover, with responsibility for spatial planning, as well as making decisions on planning applications.

[edit] Management Plans

Each National Park has a legal requirement to produce a management plan. The plan details how relevant organisations will progress with meeting the shared objectives of the park.

[edit] Reform

On 27 May 2018, Nearly 70 years after National Parks and AONBs were first established, Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced a review to ensure designated landscapes are fit for the future.

Led by writer Julian Glover, the review will look at how these landscapes meet our needs – including whether there is scope for the current network of 34 AONBs and 10 National Parks to expand. It will also explore how access to these landscapes can be improved, how those who live and work in them can be better supported, and their role in growing the rural economy.


In October 2018, a called for evidence was launched to support the review of national parks and AONBs. Ref

In November 2020, the government announced plans to create more national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty as part of the government’s 25-year environment plan.

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