Happy eighth birthday to the South Downs National Park, born on 1 April 2011 as Britain’s newest national park.
I was sorry to miss the celebratory event in Midhurst, West Sussex, yesterday. It was as usual organised by the indefatigable Owen Plunkett, with speeches from national park chair Margaret Paren and former chair of the South Downs Campaign Robin Crane, followed by a six-mile walk led by George and Jasper Stride.
I sent a message, commenting that everything that has happened in the last eight years has justified the area’s designation as a national park. Our unique, inspiring, ancient and much-loved landscape needs all the protection it can get—from development, fracking, road schemes and all the other pressures of today.
The national park authority does magnificent work to protect our treasured downs and the Western Weald, and the voluntary organisations are ever vigilant and ready to speak out, acting as the authority’s critical friend.
The threats are greater than ever but, by working together, we shall overcome them.