Friday, 23 December 2016

Merry Christmas from the Broads National Park

Welcome to the Broads National Park – that is the Christmas greeting after the long running legal battle over the national park name finally ended in the Authority’s favour.

The High Court gave the go ahead for the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads to use the term to clearly promote its special qualities, equivalent to those of the 14 other UK national parks.

And the Rt Hon Lord Justice Simon refused leave to appeal, signalling the end to more than a year of legal wrangling and the end of the process.

The Chair of the Broads Authority, Prof Jacquie Burgess said she was “thrilled” that the judge had recognised the clear rationale for the name.

“The Broads fully deserves to be known as a national park – as much as the Lake District, the Cairngorms or any of the US Parks such as the Everglades or Yosemite.”

The Broads was not designated under the 1949 National Park legislation because of the additional complexity associated with managing its waterways but was given an equivalent status to that of a National Park in 1989 under its own Act of Parliament.

The Broads Authority receives a National Park Grant, has the same first two purposes as the other National Parks relating to conservation and recreation and the Broads has the same protection under the planning legislation.

The move to identify the Broads as a National Park came out of a desire to more clearly promote its national park credentials and special qualities and Prof Burgess said the historic decision could benefit all three of its purposes.

“The National Park brand is internationally recognised and hugely appealing to visitors. It is shorthand for a place that is special, is properly looked after and deserves to be valued by everyone who visits and lives there,” she said.

“Using that term better promotes the special qualities of the Broads and highlights the importance of conservation while increased interest in the Broads from visitors will help support the boating industry.”

Broads Authority members took the decision in January 2015 to use the term Broads National Park to promote the area. The legal challenge was then brought by a local couple concerned about conservation interests because the previous long term ambition to become a national park in law was dropped as part of that decision.

The Broads Authority name will continue for the organisation itself.

The conclusion of the case following the judgement at the end of November was welcomed by stakeholders.

Peter Charlesworth, Chairman of National Parks UK, said: “National Parks UK wholeheartedly welcomes the decision by the high court to uphold the branding of this magnificent area as the Broads National Park.

“We’re confident that this strong sense of identity as one of the UK’s 15 most iconic landscapes can encourage more people to visit this wonderful place, learn more about its special qualities and experience the scenic waterways, rare wildlife and rich cultural heritage first hand.

“We are also positive that it can help highlight the vital contribution the UK’s National Parks make to the UK economy - attracting around 106 million visitors, and generating over £6 billion in spend each year.”

Julian Roughton, Chief Executive of Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said: “The Broads is not only one of the UK’s finest landscapes but is also exceptionally important amongst National Parks for its wildlife. National Park branding can attract more visitors to come for a superb wildlife experience and help ensure that the Broads’ special qualities are safeguarded for the future.”

Tony Urwin, Vice Chairman of Broads Tourism, said: "The phrase National Park is an instantly recognisable highly positive brand, both at home and internationally. Not only would it help promote the Broads to more visitors but those visitors will know from the National Park name what a very special place the Broads is.”

Michael Whittaker, Chairman of the Authority’s Navigation Committee, said: “Branding the area rather than seeking a legal change is an eminently pragmatic move which took into account the views of all representative groups during a thorough consultation process.”

Simon Altham, Managing Director of Hoseasons, said: “The national parks have entered into the psyche of British holidaymakers, and have become synonymous with everything the Broads has to offer as a destination; tranquillity, natural beauty and the enjoyment of the great outdoors.”

Fiona Howie, Chief Executive of Campaign for National Parks, said: “We see the Broads as an essential part of the National Parks family and are pleased that this decision has confirmed that the area can be promoted as such.”

Pete Waters, Executive Director of Visit East Anglia, said: “The only way we can get a competitive edge over other regions when it comes to attracting visitors is to leverage our unique assets and increase our saleability, and the Broads National Park will resonate not only nationally but internationally too.”