National Parks

The Ramblers has long campaigned to protect these special landscapes from intrusive developments and damaging activities in order to preserve their beauty and tranquillity for public enjoyment.

The issue


Although designation as a national park offers the highest level of protection against development, inadequate legislation means that the land within the parks remains at risk from large scale industrial projects.

The ability of the park authorities to carry out their statutory duties is further threatened by budget cuts which are leading, in some instances, to authorities selling land to fill budget deficits. Such sales have the potential to undermine public access unless existing access arrangements can be maintained and sympathetic management guaranteed.

Our position

We believe that:

  • national parks should be protected against damaging developments including mining, quarrying, fracking, waste disposal, wind farms, and unacceptably noisy activities (e.g. off-road recreational motoring);

  • park authorities should receive sufficient funding to carry out their statutory duties;

  • military training is generally incompatible with the purposes of national parks, and should be progressively withdrawn.

We work on these issues through our membership of the Campaign for National Parks.


Government action

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) says that planning permission for major developments should be refused in national parks except in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated they are in the public interest.

Over the past five years, national park budgets have been reduced by 30-40%, and face a further cut in 2015/16.

In October 2015 we welcomed the government’s decision to extend to the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks to bring an extra 488 square km within their boundaries. 

Background to the issue 

National Parks are designated for their landscapes, wildlife habitats and the opportunities they provide for walking and other outdoor activities. First created in the 1950s, they function to protect outstanding countryside for the enjoyment of future generations.

The 13 parks in England and Wales are managed by national park authorities (NPAs) which determine all planning applications submitted in their areas. They are funded by Defra in England and the Welsh Government in Wales.

Land in the parks is not state owned.  Although some is owned and managed by NPAs, most is privately owned, or held by bodies such as the National Trust.


For further information contact Janet Davis, Senior Policy Officer


Links to additional information:


Updated November 2015