South Downs National Park Authority response to report on funding of England’s National Parks

South Downs National Park Devil's Dyke looking west

South Downs National Park response to Guardian article

The South Downs National Park Authority has responded to a national media report on the funding of England’s National Parks.

An article in a recent Guardian titled “Funding cuts leave England’s National Parks facing ‘existential crisis’” outlines a “funding crisis” facing National Park Authorities.

“National Parks need the resources to match our ambitions”

Trevor Beattie, Chief Executive of the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “The financial situation for all National Parks is incredibly difficult and the South Downs National Park is no exception.

“SDNPA funding has fallen by 40 per cent in real terms over the past decade and this year the Authority has had to make £1.1m of savings, including substantial staff cuts, closure of a depot, merging ranger teams, less funding for projects and other efficiency savings.

“The South Downs National Park has received a flat cash settlement from the Government of £10.486m in every year since 2019/2020 and this amount will remain the same until 24/25 – the same cash funding over a period of six years at a time of rapidly rising costs for all services.

“Inflation continues to erode this sum, meaning we continue to have to make cuts in delivery on the ground, as well as seeking alternative funding. This is before any further cuts that might arise as a result of the Chancellor’s 17th November budget.

“The South Downs National Park is the third biggest in England, has the largest population and is among the top 20 planning authorities in the UK by both geography and volume of applications. Expectations on us continue to rise as our budget reduces in real terms.

“The Authority has balanced the books until 2024/2025, through cuts, efficiency savings and fundraising, after which we will be facing a deficit of at least £849,000 over the subsequent two years, unless funding increases.

“National Parks are the ‘green lungs’ of the nation, providing a vital public service to help people access the countryside and protect and enhance our cherished landscapes. We are also the linchpin of the UK’s ambitious nature recovery and climate change targets. We need the resources to match our ambitions for nature recovery, access for all and the national response to climate change.”

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