National Park can’t cope due to funding cuts

editorial image

Cuts in Government funding means the North York Moors National Park is no longer able to deal with transport need, educational projects and vital work that is needed to address climate change.

It’s capacity to deal with plant or animal disease - such as foot and mouth which caused widespread devastation in rural communities back in 2001 - had also been “greatly reduced”.

The revelations have come via a Freedom of Information request submitted in April by the Campaign For National Parks. The group submitted the F.O.I to all ten of the UK’s National Park authorities in relation to the effects of the cuts which were first brought in five years ago.

The Authority has seen funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) reduced from £5.7m in 2010/1 to £3.7m in 2015/6 – a 35% fall in real terms. in addition to cuts from the Department of Communities and Local Government.

Since 2010 funding to the tune of 40 per cent has been lost and in turn there has also been a 27%reduction in staff numbers.

Although volunteers now represent what would have been 45 full time members of staff, this and cuts have led to the loss of the Moorsbus after 25 years service.

A replacement service, operated by the North Yorkshire Moors Association, has seen funding reduced from an allocated £100,000 to £20,000 per year.

The authority has also had to stop managing the Definitive Map of public rights of way, including designations to record rights of way before they are permanently lost and halt work on the management of Green Lanes (unsurfaced, unclassified roads)

Fiona Howie, Campaign for National Parks chief executive, said the Authority had been hit particularly hard by the cuts, which was already threatening its iconic landscape.

“Innovative public transport programmes, which were getting local people and tourists into and around the Park, have been cut; public rights of way are not being maintained and less resource is being focused on enabling young people to understand and enjoy the Park.”

Ms Howie added she was deeply concerned about the potential level of further cuts over the next five years, saying it was time for the Government to take action: “National Park Authorities should be spending time promoting our National Parks as our most treasured jewels in the crown and not having to look over their shoulder and deal with painful, piece-meal year on year cuts.”