National Parks

Extract from memo briefing Prime Minister MacDonald on the report of the National Parks Committee, dated 15th April 1931 (PREM 1/100)


The committee suggest that there is need of special measures to ensure the preservation of areas of exceptional natural interest and to control development in these areas, and they conclude that in many cases this could be achieved by an extension of the scope of the Planning Acts. Their recommendations with regard to planning are generally met in the provisions of the new Town and Country Planning Bill: but in addition they would impose either (1) a scheme of grants to be disbursed by the Ministry of Health (or the Scottish Department of Health) on the advice of Advisory Committees with a view to facilitating the preparation and execution of comprehensive planning schemes for large areas of national interest such as the Lake District, Snowdonia, etc., or, (2) if funds of the order of £100,000 p.a. for 5 years were available, they would prefer to see independent National Authorities set up for England and Wales and Scotland respectively whose main functions would be to select National Reserve areas: to stimulate Local Authorities to co-operate in planning schemes: and to provide expert aid and some monetary assistance from public funds.

It is further suggested that these National Authorities should take steps to improve the means of access for pedestrians to areas of special natural interest by securing easements over private lands or in special cases, by acquiring land, by stimulating Societies to provide huts and hostels in remote regions, and by making arrangements with the Forestry Commission for the use of unplantable areas in their possession. (e.g. Glenmore in the Cairngorm area).

It is also contemplated that the Authorities should make small grants to expert Societies for the Preservation of flora and fauna, and should have power to regulate Common lands. The Committee recognise that the machinery of National Authorities involving as it would grants from public or private funds of £100,000 per annum may be impracticable at the present time and they appreciate that the question of preservation is of more importance at the moment than the question of providing additional means of access to large open spaces. The Committee include a representative of the Ministry of Health and there is nothing in their proposals which conflicts with present policy.

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