Plans for a National Landscape Service to replace Dartmoor National Park are about as welcome as the ill-fated European Super League proposal, says a Devon council leader Alan Connett.
The Government is expected to make an announcement shortly on the future of the nation's National Parks like Dartmoor and Exmoor, as well as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
This follows a national review which is causing alarm with the prospect of National Park Authorities being scrapped or down-graded in favour of a centrally controlled landscape service, said Cllr Connett, Leader of Teignbridge District Council.
Dartmoor and Exmoor have their own national park authorities which manage the landscape and deal with planning issues in the park. They are also led by local representatives, serving the community.
Around 40% of Dartmoor is within the Teignbridge district, added Cllr Connett.
Cllr Sally Morgan, a Teignbridge councillor who is also on the Dartmoor National Park Authority, said: "Dartmoor is precious to everyone, not only the people who live in Devon but also our thousands of visitors. I question how Dartmoor and the other National Parks can be better preserved and protected by a new Quango landscape service than our own locally accountable organisations."
"We were promised that the days of 'Whitehall knows best' were over in the Conservative manifesto of 2019, but this feels like a back-door attempt to wrest control over Dartmoor from Devon and put London civil servants in charge.
Devon's Liberal Democrats have put an urgent Motion to Devon County Council calling on the Government not to proceed with a National Landscape Service or take any step which will remove local engagement and involvement in our precious national parks.
The Motion will be considered at the next County Council meeting on 29 April.
A series of questions about the future of Dartmoor National Park were also put to Teignbridge Council for its meeting today (22 April).
However, the questions will be held over until after local elections on May 6, as council managers say dealing with them before would breach the Government's regulations during an election period.
John Nutley, a councillor on Teignbridge and Dartmoor National Park, said:" Dartmoor celebrates its 70th birthday as a National Park this year and yet, it could also be the year the Government effectively signs the death warrant to one of our country's greatest natural and most enjoyed assets.
"Who hasn't enjoyed letterboxing, walking, hiking or simply admiring the view over a picnic with the family. I am tremendously worried that a National Landscape Service will simply hollow out any local oversight and management of our precious Park and lead to anonymous people no-one knows in London deciding what's best".
Cllr Connett added:" Plans for a National Landscaping Service are about as welcome as the proposals for football's European Super League and I hope they will be just as short lived.
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