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We are calling on the government to recognise in its spending review the value to the nation of green spaces, lovely places and public paths and access.
Our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook, was speaking at an open day at Netley Abbey, Hampshire, organised by the Bursledon rights of Way and Amenities Preservation Group and opened by the Mayor of Eastleigh, on Saturday (26 June).
Says Kate: ‘Whether swingeing cuts in public expenditure, of one quarter to one third, are necessary at all is a big question. But even if they do have to be made, they should not penalise our unique environmental assets which already suffer from lack of resources. The actual savings from environmental cuts will be small, but the impact on people and places will be devastating.
‘For instance, green spaces, close to communities, are absolutely vital for people’s health and wellbeing. They need to be created, maintained and cherished, not neglected or smothered in development.
‘Last week the government announced a five per cent cut in its budget for national parks. That will save about £5 million—tiny in the scheme of things, but severely damaging to the national park authorities who give such good and innovative value for money.
‘Ironically, the national park cuts were announced only the day after the government’s adviser, the Commission for Rural Communities, asserted that ‘upland landscapes [of which 75 per cent are designated as national park or area of outstanding natural beauty] represent and contain important natural assets, which generate valuable public goods’.(1) So is the CRC’s expert advice to be ignored?
‘It is all too easy to slash environmental spending without appreciating the dire consequences. We must protect our breathing spaces or we all suffocate,’ Kate declares.
1. High ground, high potential—a future for England’s upland communities, Commission for Rural Communities, published 15 June 2010.