Britain's national parks are its most precious landscapes, Ms Ashbrook said. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Britain's national parks are its most precious landscapes, Ms Ashbrook said. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

A leading campaigner warned against the ‘Disneyfication’ of Britain’s national parks cautioned that the setting up of a partnership could lead governments to cut budgets further.

Kate Ashbrook expressed her concern that the National Parks Partnership might lead to commercialisation of some of the UK’s most precious landscapes.

Ms Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, wrote in the latest issue of the organisation’s magazine: “The 15 UK national park authorities have launched the National Parks Partnerships, the aim of which is to enable businesses to engage with the parks ‘to enhance the quality and utility of the parks now and for future generations’.

“Some hopes. Businesses will want their profits from the scheme through Disneyfication and crassly inappropriate sponsorships. Furthermore, the park authorities will be competing for money from the same pot as the voluntary, campaigning, park societies such as our members the Dartmoor Preservation Association and Friends of the Lake District, who could suffer as a result.

“The English parks had a funding reprieve, thanks to the brilliant Stop the Cuts action led by the Campaign for National Parks. But the Welsh parks remain at serious risk. This ‘partnership’ must not give governments an excuse further to reduce cash for national parks.”

The society, Britain’s oldest national conservation body, said said in the Open Spaces journal public funding is vital because the parks are assets for the nation.

“They must be kept wild and free so that everyone may seek inspiration and refreshment there,” Ms Ashbrook said. “If they become prey to commercial predators they will be at severe risk and their special qualities will be destroyed.”

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