South Downs designated a National Park by Defra secretary Hilary Benn

The South Downs has now been designated a National Park after years of campaigning.

Defra Secretary Hilary Benn signed an order confirming the designation of the South Downs National Park on 12 November.

The designation process originally started in April 2000. Following a period of public consultation the Countryside Agency — now Natural England — made a national park designation order in December 2002. A variation order was also made in 2004 to include land around Arundel.

The proposed boundary was considered in detail at the resulting public inquiry that ran between 10 November 2003 and 18 March 2005. Following changes to designation legislation in 2006, the inquiry reopened for a further five months in 2008, and the inspector submitted his final report to the minister in November 2008.

Open Spaces Society secretary Kate Ashbrook said: "The society has long campaigned alongside many other bodies — and more recently as a member of the South Downs Campaign — for the South Downs to be protected as a national park.  

"This unique, outstandingly beautiful and grand landscape, close to conurbations yet tranquil and unspoilt, needs to be cherished and enjoyed.  We are jubilant that its protection is secured."

 

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