A real-life ‘Jurassic Park’ covering East Devon and Dorset could be created.
An independent review undertaken last year noted there was potential for the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) in both areas to be combined into a new National Park.
The Glover Review of protected landscapes in England is set to be discussed by East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Strategic Planning Committee next Tuesday.
Officers have recommended that officers endorse the report, but to await the Government’s response to it.
Under proposal 20, it is advised that three of the nation’s larger AONBs should be considered for National Park status.
These are The Chilterns, The Cotswolds and the combined area of Dorset AONB and East Devon AONB.
The review states: “Dorset and East Devon have some of the greatest concentrations of biodiversity in Britain and opportunities for enjoyment.
“It includes the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site as well as farmed areas inland where development pressures are less strong and support for a change in status may be less established.
“We heard from opponents as well as supporters of a new status.
“Both the Cotswolds and the Dorset/East Devon proposals are strong candidates, alongside the Chilterns, to be considered for National Park status. We suggest Natural England and ministers consider the case for each.”
A report by Ed Freeman, EDDC’s service lead, to the meeting reminds the committee that around two thirds of East Devon falls in designated AONBs.
Mr Freeman adds: “The Glover report therefore has a specific and direct relevance to our district and its outstanding landscape qualities.
“It is highlighted that the Glover report notes potential for a new National Park to be formed from the combination of the Dorset AONB and the East Devon AONB.
“It is stressed that the Glover review is a report to government and is not a consultation document.
“It is expected that the Government will formally respond to the Glover report outlining any actions it may wish to take forward.”
The Glover Review refers to the potential for a new National Park to include the East Devon AONB, but not the Blackdown Hills AONB.
Mr Freeman’s report adds: “If proposals for a new National Park were progressed, it could be expected that that there would be a lengthy period of assessment, including in respect of boundaries, along with public consultation before any proposal led to formal designation.”
If a new National Park was to be created, there may be direct and indirect benefits, such as greater tourism activity, his report states.
It adds that there could also be cost implications, which may fall nationally or locally, and power would transferred from the district council to another body.
The report adds: “In governing body operational terms, the fundamental difference between National Parks and AONBs is that a National Park Authority is the statutory planning authority for the designated area.
“If a new National Park were created, assuming any relevant legislation and powers follow the pattern elsewhere in the country, a new park authority would be responsible for producing a local plan and planning policy documents and also for determining planning application and allied tasks.”
The strategic planning committee will discuss the Glover Review at its meeting on Tuesday, October 22.