National Park Rejection 1973

Text of letter dated 17th July 1973 from the Welsh Office to the Director of the Countryside Commission

Sir,

National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949
The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Regulations 1950
The Cambrian Mountains National Park (Designation) Order 1972

I am directed by the Secretary of State to refer to your letter of 24th October 1972 with which you submitted for his consideration the Cambrian Mountains National Park (Designation) Order 1972 and other relevant documents.

Following the publication by the Commission in the London Gazette and newspapers of the Notice stating the effect of the Order 43 objections to the Order including petitions signed by a total of 108 persons and 6 representatives in favour of the confirmation of the Order were received. Among the objectors were all five county councils involved, five of the seven district councils and five parish councils whose areas lie within the designated area. Objections were also received from the Country Landowners’ Association, the National Farmers’ Union, the Farmers’ Union of Wales, the Council for the Protection of Rural Wales, Plaid Cymru, various branches of those organisations and 15 individual persons. Representations in favour of the proposal were submitted by the Youth Hostels Assocation, the Cyclists’ Touring Club, and four individual persons.

The objectors to the Order put forward the following reasons for their opposition:-

1. It is premature to establish a new National Park before the report of the National Parks’ Committee is published.
2. The establishment of a new National Park would further fragment the planning services and weaken the planning authorities.
3. The designation of the area as a National Park wiould result in an increase in the number of visitors to the area which would be prejudicial to the interests of farmers and landowners in the area.
4. Greater tourist pressure would result in trespass on privately owned land, damage to crops and interference by dogs with livestock.
5. Designation would result in tighter planning control which would interfere with the freedom of farmers and involve them in further financial burdens.
6. People living in the area would be burdened by visitors for whom there are inadequate facilties which would have to be provided.
7. Improved roads and the establishment of either country parks or picnic sites at strategic points would be sufficiently adequate as an alternative to a new National Park.
8. A new Park should not be established until the Commission has adequate staff in Wales to ensure the effective co-operation of local authorities.
9. The area should be designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty rather than a National Park.

The Secretary of State has carefully considered the Commission’s statement in support of confirmation of the Order and accepts that the area involved is an extensive tract of relatively wild country; which by reason of its natural beauty and the opportunity it might afford for open air recreation possibly fulfils the requirements for a National Park. He also agrees that public demand for access to such areas is growing but bearing in mind that roughly 20% of the land area of Wales has already been included in designated National Parks he is not convinced that it would be appropriate to establish yet another Park in Wales at the present time.

In coming to this conclusion he has been influenced by the very strong and widespread opposition to the Order particularly on the part of the local authorities involved.

Having regard to both the number and substance of the objections received the Secretary of State is satisfied that the case against confirmation of the Order is sufficiently strong to warrant his dispensing with holding a public local inquiry and that in the light of the evidence already submitted he should refuse to confirm the Order. He has therefore decided not to confirm the Order.

He feels, however, that notwithstanding this decision positive action may need to be taken to provide facilties in certain parts of the proposed National Park area to meet possible future pressures. To this end he proposes to arrange for his officials to have talks with officials and representatives of the Countryside Commission, the Forestry Commission and the local authorities concerned about the possible development of country parks, car parks, picnic sites and other amenities in the area concerned.

I am, Sir,
Your obedient Servant

I.S. Dewar