New Forest set to become England's newest national park

The New Forest will become England's eighth National Park, the Rural Affairs Minister, Alun Michael, announced today.

In the form now proposed, the New Forest National Park – sited between Southampton and Bournemouth – would be England's smallest National Park at 571sq km with an estimated population of approximately 38,000.

Mr Michael said: "Our National Parks have a vital role conserving our natural heritage, but conservation alone is not enough - the Parks must balance environmental priorities with those of communities. Today's decision will help protect the unique character of the New Forest - valued by so many people, and acknowledged as a national treasure for nearly a thousand years - whilst recognising that it is a working, living place with social and economic needs".

The current National Parks in England are Dartmoor, Exmoor, the Lake District, the North York Moors, Northumberland, the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales. Each of them has a National Park Authority, which looks after conservation issues and helps people to understand and enjoy their special qualities, as well as seeking to foster the social and economic well-being of communities the National Parks.

The decision is in line with recommendations made by the Inquiry Inspector after a seven-month public inquiry. The inspector ruled that the New Forest met the criteria and purposes of a National Park and should be managed by a National Park Authority established under the Environment Act 1995.

There will be a further period of consultation on proposed boundary additions before the Designation Order is confirmed. When the boundary is finalised, Mr Michael will announce the confirmation of the Designation Order and the date for the creation of the New Forest National Park.


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