George Osborne delivered his autumn statement today. Photo: M Holland

George Osborne delivered his autumn statement today. Photo: M Holland

The Conservative Government said funding for national parks in England will not be cut, despite departmental savings announced by Chancellor George Osborne today.

There were fears England’s 10 national parks would face further grant restraints in Mr Osborne’s autumn statement, delivered to Parliament.

Authorities have already had to contend with funding cuts of up to 40 per cent during the previous coalition Government.

But the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the £350m funding for England’s national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty and public forests would be protected during the period covered by the Government’s spending review.

Defra said the protected areas would also be given legal flexibilities to ‘allow them to build sustainable, long-term revenue streams and boost growth in rural areas’.

The department will also protect flood defence spending and the £3bn spent through the EU common agricultural policy, which benefits farmers.

Liz Truss: 'Protections for natural landscape'. Photo: Policy Exchange CC-BY-2.0

Liz Truss: 'Protections for natural landscape'. Photo: Policy Exchange [CC-2.0]

Environment Secretary Liz Truss said: “With today’s settlement we can now plan for the future.

“This strong funding settlement means we can press ahead with our vital work to protect the country from floods and animal and plant disease, put in place stronger protections for our natural landscape and deliver on our commitments for a cleaner, healthier environment which benefits people and the economy.”

The Campaign for National Parks said it was absolutely delighted with the news that England’s national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty would have their funding protected.

A spokesperson for the campaigning charity said: “While it is fantastic that national parks, AONBs and forests have been protected, it’s not all good news. Defra will have to find savings of 15 per cent and we don’t yet know what that means for other parts of their work.”

Fiona Howie: 'Great news'

Fiona Howie: 'Great news'

Chief executive Fiona Howie said: “It is great news that the Chancellor has listened to concerns about the future of English national parks and confirmed their funding will be protected for the rest of this Parliament.

“National parks are nationally important assets which deliver important environmental, social, economic and cultural benefits to both local communities and the nation and it’s wonderful that their value has been recognised.

“We know, however, national parks face a wide range of development threats including from new infrastructure and housebuilding. We do not want these landscapes preserved in aspic; they must be thriving communities, but this will only be achieved through appropriate development. So we will be looking at the wide range of announcements made today to fully understand the implications on our designated landscapes.”

Funding of national parks in Scotland and Wales is devolved to their national governments.

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