Direct elections to national park authorities revived in Queen's Speech

The Queen's Speech today featured the revival of direct elections to national park authorities five years after New Labour dropped the plan.

A draft Bill would enable residents of the parks to directly elect some board members to English national park authorities and the Norfolk Broads Authority, the Cabinet Office said.

Councils which appoint three or more members of park boards would also be able to depart from the current political balance rule if by doing so they would appoint a representative of a ward within the authority’s area.

The Bill would also allow parish councils to choose any local representative to the boards, rather than only their own members.

The English national parks authorities are Dartmoor, Exmoor, Lake District, New Forest, North York Moors, Northumberland, Peak District, South Downs the Yorkshire Dales. The Norfolk Broads Authority is not the same but holds a similar status to a park authority.

As well as being tasked with conserving natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage and ensuring public access and engagement they are planning authorities within their areas.

Their membership is a combination of councillors nominated by their council, experts chosen by the government and parish council nominees, who must be confirmed by the government.

The previous government withdrew direct park authority elections in 2009 after a consultation.


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