HC Deb 26 January 1981 vol 997 cc337-8W
Mr. Shersby

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has reviewed the administration and staffing of the national parks including the role of the Countryside Commission in relation to the parks; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Monro

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Leek (Mr. Knox) on 12 November.—[Vol. 992, c.453.] We have no plans to introduce any changes in the general role of the Countryside Commission in respect of the national parks.

Mr. Crowther

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to protect the national parks against further losses of wilderness through cultivation, afforestation and military training.

Mr. Monro

Under new procedures introduced on 1 October by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, all farmers in national parks are required to consult the appropriate national park authority before undertaking agricultural operations on which they are seeking grant. I also refer the hon. Member to the various provisions of the Wildlife and Countryside Bill, aimed at preserving and protecting landscape and habitats.

As far as afforestation is concerned, the Forestry Commission carries out extensive consultations both on its own planting proposals and on applications it receives for grant-aid, and I am satisfied that it takes environmental considerations fully into account in its decisions.

Issues connected with military training arise mainly in the Dartmoor National Park, and are kept under continuous review by the Dartmoor Consultative Committee, whose members include representatives from the National Park Committee, the Armed Forces, the Countryside Commission, Nature Conservancy Council, Ministry of Defence and my Department.