Natural England has today published two reports detailing the outcomes of its National Trails review.
In May 2012, Natural England launched a consultation on proposals for the future management of National Trails, aimed at current management partners as well as trail user groups. The consultation closed in July and, following approval by the Natural England Board, its recommendations are published today, along with a summary of the consultation responses.
The New Deal; Management of National Trails in England from April 2013 explains how National Trails will be managed and maintained in the future. It affirms our commitment as national champion of the National Trails and explains how we will continue to support the Trails at a national level. Trails will be delivered on the ground, as most of them already are, by Local Trail Partnerships. The Partnerships will report to Natural England on how they are meeting National Trails standards and spending their budgets.
One of the key steps forward is the new funding formula, which irons out historical differences between Trails, and allows for funding over a three year period rather than year on year. This means that Partnerships can secure better value for money and also commit to longer term projects. So that the formula remains fit for purpose, it will be reviewed within the 3 years, and any adjustment required can be applied before the next funding period starts.
The Analysis of Responses summarises the key findings from our consultation on the National Trails review. All 141 responses will be available to view on Natural England’s website following publication. Respondents expressed different views about the reasons for the review and about the levels of detail in our proposals. However, the majority agreed that the propositions as set out in the consultation were “in the right direction of travel”, and the consultation process was designed to generate detail.
Liz Newton, Natural England’s Director for Access and Engagement, said: “It was great to receive so much feedback on the National Trails – this shows just how important they are to people. The new deal will see local organisation nationally supported and enable the trails to continue to contribute to the economy while giving people access to our most beautiful scenery. Coupled with our new promotions partners, the new model will provide world class trails with a world class profile.”