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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 June 2007, 09:00 GMT 10:00 UK
South Downs national park urged
Sussex Downs
The process to make South Downs a national park was postponed
Countryside campaigners are calling on the government to honour a plan to make the South Downs a national park.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) wants land between Winchester, in Hampshire, and Eastbourne, East Sussex, to be given the status.

The process to make the area a national park was postponed last year after a legal judgment was made on the decision to make the New Forest a National Park.

Defra said ministers would consider whether to reopen an inquiry.

Considering that the government promised this national park as a gift to the nation in 1999, it is certainly a long time coming
Emma Marrington, CPRE national park campaigner

Emma Marrington, CPRE national park campaigner, said: "Now that the South Downs National Park designation process is back on track the government needs to keep its promise.

"Confirm the national park and establish a National Park Authority with full planning powers.

"Considering that the Government promised this national park as a gift to the nation in 1999, it is certainly a long time coming."

A Designation Order for a South Downs National Park was submitted by the Countryside Agency to the Environment Secretary on 27 January 2003.

A public inquiry into the order ran from 10 November 2003 to 23 March 2005.

'Process restarted'

Defra received the inspector's report in May 2006, covering the principle of a South Downs National Park.

A Defra spokesman said: "The designation process was put on hold in February 2006 following a High Court judgment on a challenge to the New Forest National Park designation - known as the "Meyrick judgment".

"This judgment appeared to have implications for the South Downs as it potentially changed the way in which the criteria for national park status have generally been understood since the 1950s."

The designation process has since been restarted.

The spokesman added: "In view of the changes, Defra will be inviting further public representations, probably in June orJuly."


SEE ALSO
Grants for rural tourism project
23 Dec 06 |  Southern Counties
Downs countryside future set out
22 Jun 06 |  Southern Counties
1m boost for New Forest wildlife
07 Apr 06 |  Hampshire
South Downs demand at conference
24 Sep 05 |  Southern Counties
Cyclist promotes South Downs plan
27 Aug 05 |  Southern Counties

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