Monday, 6 October 2014

Save UK Parks


NATIONAL FEDERATION OF PARKS AND GREEN SPACESThe umbrella organisation for the UK's Friends of Parks Forums and the Friends Groups movement 

Please forward to all your members...
Green Spaces Campaigning - Autumn UpdateSept 20th - World Parks Day 2014

Save and protect the UK's Parks!Sign and promote the 'Save Our Parks' petition: 

More and more people call for action to address the underfunding crisisWorld Parks Day 2014, September 20th, is a prompt for us all to renew our determination to stand up for the UK's public parks and green spaces. Over the last few months there's has been a rising level of concern for the future of such spaces. Here are some of the significant things happening.

- CUTS CONTROVERSIES: Thousands of parks' officers and members of local Friends Groups will be expressing alarm, speaking out and lobbying their Local Authorities to protect next year's parks budgets. The underfunding crisis for our wonderful green spaces deepens as Councils face further, heavy, general budget cuts throughout the UK. Parks services are particularly under threat as, incredibly, they are not a statutory obligation for Councils. 

- GREENER BRITAIN: UK Environmental organisations representing 7 million members call for action to halt the crisis facing our green spaces.    The 10 organisations - including National Trust, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and Friends of The Earth - have produced a special 'Greener Britain' Report which warns that 'funding for public parks and green spaces is in crisis. Local authorities are facing reductions in revenue spending of around 40 per cent by May 2015 compared to 2010 budgets, predicted to drop by about 60 per cent by 2020. In the largest cities, the impact is likely to be even more severe, with the probability that there will be little or no money left for parks by 2020. Our parks, green corridors and waterways are critical to the attractiveness of our towns and cities, and to the well-being of the millions who live in them. Given that strategic funding is now being channelled through local growth funds, and the critical role natural infrastructure plays in people’s lives, it should qualify for funding just as local transport schemes do.' Greener Britain report: See the key extracts below + Daily Telegraph article: 'Green spaces under threat from planning system and funding crisis'.

- CAMPAIGNS TO PROTECT PUBLIC OPEN SPACES: There are many determined local campaigns around the UK to protect green space from inappropriate development. One of these has gone further than most. A recent legal case at the High Court in London saw a community campaign - Protect Dundonald Rec - challenge Merton Council's scheme to build on Dundonald Rec in defiance of the views of a Planning Inspector. The campaign and legal case has tried, so far unsuccessfully, to establish greater protection rights for all the UK's green spaces. Now the local campaigners, backed by the London Green Spaces Friends Groups Network, are calling on people to sign a petition calling on the Secretary of State to intervene. Please sign the petition: [See further details below].   Its worth noting that Fields In Trust has been working hard to protect green spaces - 2,443 have been given special protection in the last few years. But note that the landowner has to agree. More info: POLITICAL DEBATE:  The main Political Parties will be holding their conferences in the coming weeks. There will be debate over what issues are important to the public, and which policies should be in manifestos to be addressed by the next Government in May 2015. There will also be debate among the wider public on what their own concerns and hopes are for the future. Such a debate can only grow as the General Election gets closer. It is crucial that as many people as possible sign the Save Our Parks petition to send out a strong message on the importance of green spaces: 

- LOVE PARKS CAMPAIGN:  Love Parks Week is now being expanded to become an all year round programme, “Love Parks”.  'The Love Parks Week aim has always been to raise awareness of the importance of parks and green spaces, showcasing the benefits they bring and highlighting the need for continual investment and engagement. Sadly, as the nation comes to realise the benefits green spaces bring to our lives and communities, funding is being dramatically reduced. This year Love Parks Week will be ramping up its fight for parks and encouraging the creation of a year round movement with a launch of a new brand - ‘Love Parks’, after all a park is for life not just for summer.'  Love Parks is managed by Keep Britain Tidy, working with the National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces and other key organisations. More and

Promote the Save Our Parks petitionThe Government's cuts to Local Authorities for our local public services, combined with the lack of statutory protection for open spaces, are causing the most of the problems we are facing. So please sign and promote the UK 'Save Our Parks' petition to step up the pressure on the Government and all political parties to take seriously the future funding and protection of our vital green spaces. 

1. Sign the petition: 
2. Spread the news via Twitter: @LoveParks_Week  #LoveParks
3. Spread the news via Facebook: - and: 
4. Refer to the Parks Petition webpage: - the page includes a Sign Up Sheet and leaflets to distribute

Dave Morris
NFPGS Campaigns Officer 

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Greener Britain Report: Extracts re Green SpacesThe Natural Environment White Paper, published in 2011, recognised that our collective ambition for lasting prosperity and well-being relies on a healthy, restored natural environment, the benefits of which are accessible to all. Over the past 50 years we have seen a significant decline in the extent and variety of habitats and species, leaving both our economy and our society poorer. We need to reverse these declines, by planning now for nature’s recovery. 

A country rich in accessible natural places to exercise, socialise, study or relax makes us healthier and happier.Manifestos that commit to restore nature will help to address the decline in wildlife, improve the quality of people’s lives and support a more resilient economy in the future. In England, all parties should commit to a Nature and Well-being Act, setting out the long term plan for nature’s recovery and recognising its fundamental importance to our economy, sense of place and well-being.

Plan for nature’s recoveryCreating a more wildlife-rich future, in which the degraded natural environment can be recovered, will require fundamental changes in how we value, use and invest in nature. There should be a strong, long term commitment to increase biodiversity and look after precious habitats, to guide the prioritisation of effort and investment in the recovery of nature across England. This will require targets from the top, and ecological plans created from the bottom up, supported by councils and local communities.

These plans will become ‘blueprints’ for where nature currently exists and is needed in the future, and will be an important strategic tool for identifying where investment in nature can fulfil many wider objectives, such as flood resilience and access to green space. These plans will also play an important role in helping local people to develop 
their area, by informing the design and location of development that will work with, and where possible enhance, the natural wealth of their local environment.

Make a 25 year national plan for nature’s recoveryThe government should create a 25 year plan for nature’s recovery, as recommended in the Natural Capital Committee’s second report, which pulls together local plans into a national framework. The government and its agencies would have to redirect existing payments for land management to enhance local ecological networks, and remove barriers to payments for looking after the natural environment, by changing, for instance, aspects of water industry regulation.

Map local ecological networksLocal authorities should have a duty to work together, building on the duty to co-operate introduced in the Localism Act, and map the ecological networks of the future. This would ensure that planning decisions and conditions contribute to the recovery of landscape scale natural systems. Network maps would sharpen decisions on nature restoration and the siting of development.

Set up a permanent arm’s length body to ensure the sustainable use and restoration of natural resourcesThis could be a new Office of Environmental Responsibility, or a strengthened Natural Capital Committee placed on a statutory footing. Either would be independent, and have a responsibility to guide government on its environmental ambitions, advising on environmental science and natural capital growth. This body would scrutinise all new 
government and regulatory and policy proposals for their impact on natural systems and would help to create a framework for the reporting and valuing of natural capital 
by private sector companies.

In England, the package outlined above is best delivered through a Nature and Well-being Act, setting out a long term plan for nature’s recovery.

Improve public access to natureBritain’s urban parks and green spaces are widely used and well loved. There is compelling evidence of the significant contribution that accessible, high quality green space makes to people’s health and well-being. These ‘green lungs’ are essential to encourage and enable a more active and cohesive society, particularly in providing 
stimulating, safe places for children to play that are rich in wildlife. 

Unfortunately, funding for public parks and green spaces is in crisis. Local authorities are facing reductions in revenue spending of around 40 per cent by May 2015 compared to 2010 budgets. It is predicted that these funding reductions and the rising demand for adult social care will result in discretionary spending on parks falling 
by about 60 per cent by 2020. In the largest cities, where the greatest social care needs are found, the impact is likely to be even more severe, with the probability that 
there will be little or no money left for parks by 2020. 

Funding for maintaining public parks is about to fall sharply, and we need a rescue plan. This crisis could be turned into an opportunity if the government is proactive 
and positive in enabling local government, civil society and businesses to rethink how society cares for these essential green spaces for the long term, in a way that 
increases the benefits they provide to people.

Incentivise natural infrastructure through the local growth fundOur parks, green corridors and waterways are critical to the attractiveness of our towns and cities, and to the well-being of the millions who live in them. Given that strategic funding is now being channelled through local growth funds, and the critical role natural infrastructure plays in people’s lives, it should qualify for funding just as local transport schemes do. 

Address the park funding crisis with a ‘future parks’ innovation processThere are currently no models for funding and managing public parks and green spaces at the scale required. These will need to be created during the next period of 
government given the crisis in public funding for parks. To focus ideas and effort, a ‘future parks’ national innovation project would attract, test, and roll-out the best ideas from Britain and around the world. Local authorities will also need transition support from central government to ‘rewire’ how they look after the public realm in a managed and sustainable way. 

01 Sep 2014 

Green spaces under threat from planning system and funding crisis

A Coalition of UK's leading environmental groups warn there may be "little or no money" left for the upkeep of Britain's green spaces and parks by 2020 due to funding cuts.  Greener Britain - report at
City parks could soon be left untended unless an army of volunteers can be recruited to plug the gap left by budget cuts, a coalition of environmental and countryside groups has warned. 

Britain's precious green spaces are under threat from flawed planning policy and a crisis in parks funding, a report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), the National Trust and the RSPB with seven other major green organisations claims. 

It states that “funding for public parks and green spaces is in crisis” as local authorities face spending cuts that will result in “discretionary spending on parks falling by about 60 per cent by 2020”. 

In the largest cities, it is likely “there will be little or no money left for parks by 2020”, despite the fact that “our parks, green corridors and waterways are critical to the attractiveness of our towns and cities, and to the well-being of the millions who live in them”. 

The environmental groups, which have a combined membership of more than seven million people, attack the Coalition government for its “hesitant” approach to environmental policies and urge action to “reverse the decline in British wildlife and countryside”. 

They call on all political parties to “commit to a greener Britain” by adopting a series of policy goals spanning sectors such as energy, housing and transport. 

Among the key demands, the groups call for further reforms to the Government’s controversial National Planning Policy Framework, in order to prioritise housing development on previously-used brownfield land rather than allowing its continued spread into the Green Belt. 

“If the government intends to get the whole country behind tackling the housing crisis, it should recognise that more support will come if diverse and locally relevant approaches are taken,” it says. 

Shaun Spiers, CPRE chief executive, said the planning system in recent years had “marginalised community aspiration and environmental considerations”. 

Monday’s report recommends that “local authorities should be required to work together across city regions or counties to plan for new housing in the least environmentally-damaging locations, prioritising the reuse of brownfield land where it is not of high biodiversity value”. 

It also calls for communities to be given greater rights to defend their “neighbourhood plans”, a new kind of document introduced by the Coalition and supposed to be legally-binding on planning authorities. 

Communities should be provided with a right to appeal if a local planning authority grants permission for a development which runs contrary to their neighbourhood plan, the report says. 

The report calls on the next Government to enable “natural infrastructure” projects to qualify for money from local growth funds, and for a new national project to develop new funding models for parks and green spaces. 

In the energy sector, the organisations call for an overhaul of energy efficiency policy to help households save money. The Coalition government has been widely criticised over the failure of the Green Deal scheme, which was designed to encourage homeowners to take out loans to fund green home improvements. But high interest rates of between 8 and 10 per cent have resulted in fewer than 4,000 homes signing up. 

The green organisations say that “able-to-pay households should be offered long term zero per cent loans”, while “low income households should be offered full grants on energy efficiency schemes”. 

They also call for a low carbon power target for 2030 and for more support for schemes that pay businesses to use less power at times of peak demand, to reduce the need for expensive new power stations. 

Other recommendations from the group include further protection of UK seas through development of Marine Protected areas and the creation of a 25-year plan for “nature’s recovery”. 

Amber Rudd, the Conservative MP and minister for energy and climate change, said the Coalition had “generated unprecedented investment into low carbon technologies” but acknowledged there was “still more to do”. 

Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader, said his party shared “a lot of common ground” with the Green Alliance on many of the issues. 

“In government, we turned many of our green commitments into reality and have delivered policies that protect our environment, deliver cleaner energy and create greener jobs. We are proud of our record of action but now we want to go even further. 

“We have a duty to look after our natural habitat for future generations and our manifesto will show that only the Liberal Democrats can be trusted to deliver a greener and sustainable society.” 

Caroline Flint MP, Labour’s shadow energy and climate change secretary, said: “Instead of the dither and denial we see from this Government, the Labour Party, under Ed Miliband’s leadership, recognises that climate change is a national security issue and is setting out a plan for action both at home and by leading a more ambitious programme internationally. 

"Labour has already committed to 2030 decarbonisation target which the Tories oppose and the Liberal Democrats voted against. We will continue to drive an ambitious EU emissions reduction programme and set the pace of change for the rest of the world.” 


Protect public parks and open spaces - stop local authorities building on them.
Sign the petition to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles recent judgement in the High Court puts all public parks and open space under threat of building by local authorities. Merton Council has granted itself permission to expand a school* on to scarce public open space.  Public rights to a recreation ground used by local residents and sports people for over 100 years have been removed.  Building on this land is against planning and environmental policies and a ruling from the National Planning Inspector. It should be stopped.

(*Better educational sites are available - there is no excuse for taking away public open space.)

A local group 'Protect Dundonald Rec' is challenging and campaigning against the judgement - we are campaigning to change the law and to open local authority planning decisions to proper independent scrutiny.  Our legal case was unsuccessful at the High Court and then the Court of Appeal, so now we desperately need your help to raise awareness, bring pressure on central government to give greater protection to irreplaceable green spaces, and possibly raise funds for any further legal challenge.  Your park could be next!


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