National park in East Devon 'would help economy'

PUBLISHED: 19:30 07 June 2016

The proposed boundary for the Dorset and East Devon National Park

The proposed boundary for the Dorset and East Devon National Park

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A national park spanning East Devon and Dorset would boost the economy, promote thriving local economies and conserve the environment, according to campaigners.

The team behind the bid says the new status could bring in £10million annually and is the ‘natural next step’ to protect the area’s greatest asset.

The proposed area covers the East Devon and Dorset areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) – nearly 400,000 acres – including most of the area between Exmouth and Sidmouth, the area south of Maer Lane, and between Exmouth and Budleigh, south of Salterton Road.

It overlaps with the majority of the Jurassic Coast, from Exmouth to Studland, which has already been recognised as a World Heritage Site.

The team’s report says the area was recommended for national park status in 1945 and Natural England has given its 2013 proposal a ‘positive initial assessment’.

Both county councils are set to make proposals for local government reorganisation by January 2017 – and the report says the potential for a national park is being given ‘close consideration’ in Dorset.

In her foreword for the report on behalf of the Dorset and East Devon National Park Team, Sandra Brown said: “Building a strong and sustainable economy and thriving communities goes hand in hand with safeguarding our world-class environment, landscape, geology and biodiversity.

“These aims are inter-dependent.

“The Dorset and East Devon environment is not only outstanding, but it is also our greatest economic asset. It is worth around £1.5billion every year.

“A national park for Dorset and East Devon would be the natural next step to enhance still further the economic value of the environment and sustain the area’s natural capital.”

The purposes of the national park status are to ‘conserve the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage’, and promote public enjoyment of these qualities.

It would afford statutory protection, but government figures showed it would not necessarily hinder development – national park authorities consistently approve a higher proportion of planning applications and reach decisions more quickly than other local planning authorities.

On average, English national park authorities received £409 per resident in 2013 – compared to £9.93 for AONBs. It could bring £10million a year in government funding to Dorset and East Devon.

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