Urgent – The Future of National Parks

By 25th March 2017May 15th, 2017National Parks Under Threat

On Tuesday 28th of March (this Tuesday), the Senedd in Cardiff will debate an a document not available to the public at a “Review of National Parks and AONBs” that will strip National Parks of a key conservation safeguard, the Sandford Principle.

The Welsh Assembly is holding a “Review of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty”, this debate will be based on the Future Landscape Wales report set in motion by the then Minister for Natural Resources (this is how the Welsh Assembly term the environment) Carl Sargeant and chaired by Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas

This report seeks to change the purpose of our National Parks. Currently the guiding principle of a National Park is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage and to promote opportunities for the understg and enjoyment of their special qualities by the public. This purpose is currently protected by the Sandford Principle which states:

“National Park Authorities can do much to reconcile public enjoyment with the preservation of natural beauty by good planning and management and the main emphasis must continue to be on this approach wherever possible. But even so, there will be situations where the two purposes are irreconcilable… Where this happens, priority must be given to the conservation of natural beauty.” (Lord Sandford, 1974)

Basically where a conflict arises between development and conservation, conservation must always come first.

The Welsh Assembly now wish to introduce new legislation which creates the additional purpose of enhancing the wellbeing and economic prosperity for all who live in, use or enjoy these special areas. Unfortunately any reference to the Sandford Principle is missing from the draft guidance and there is no ultimate safeguard for natural beauty and biodiversity against economic development. Because of this key conservation organisations in the Future Landscapes Wales process are unable to support the report as it stands. Raising concerns that this change in emphasise will lead to Wales National Parks losing their IUCN Category V status

Despite this report not yet being published and the majority of Assembly Members in the dark about the contents the Welsh Government are holding a plenary debate this Tuesday 28th March. An attempt to rush through legislation before it has had chance to be properly scrutinised.

Please email your Assembly Member asking them to attend the session this Tuesday and insist on the inclusion of the Sandford Principle in any new legislation. We have written a template letter, and included a list of AMs below. 

AM-template – Word Document

2016-2021 AM Contacts & Constituencies – Excel Spreadsheet

Assembly Members List – National Assembly Website

Thank you.


  • Tim says:

    Is there anything that people living outside of Wales can do?

  • Tom Laws says:

    You can write to any/all AMs saying how much you value the National Parks of Wales, that you don’t want to see them relegated to second-tier designations, and that you want to continue to come to spend your money and time in them as well-protected special places of natural beauty and wildlife.

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