Neil Heseltine, Malhamdale farmer and Chair of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has been elected Chair of National Parks England, the body which provides a collective voice for National Park’s across the country.
This key appointment comes as National Parks face significant financial pressure as a consequence of the real terms reduction in the Defra core grant, with cuts to staff and services across a number of National Parks already a reality. This also falls at a time when National Parks are realising ambitious plans to deliver on Government targets for nature, climate and public access.
Neil, who works his family’s farm in Malhamdale, is a strong advocate for sustainable farming practices. He recently appeared on David Attenborough’s acclaimed ‘Saving Our Wild Isles’ documentary expressing his view that a successful farm business can work with nature not against it, and that farming within natural processes is important for the health and welfare of livestock, the environment, and biodiversity.
Neil said: “I am proud to Chair National Parks England and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority at a time when there is so much to do to improve outcomes for climate and nature. This is one of the biggest challenges we face in our lives right now.
“As National Parks, we should strive to be role models for nature and climate, so as people spend time in these landscapes they leave inspired to do whatever they can to support climate and nature recovery.
“So I’m looking forward to working with colleagues, partners and others as we continue to deliver the vitally important climate, nature, and public access and engagement projects in National Parks across the country, and as we press Government hard to provide National Parks with the resources we so desperately need to achieve the ambitions we have for our treasured landscapes.
Neil will continue in his current role as Chair of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.
National Parks England is the umbrella organisation for the English National Park Authorities. It exists to support policy and practice by providing a collective and expert voice for their views, raising the profile of their work, facilitating discussion on issues of common concern, and working in partnership with other bodies.
The Chair and Deputy Chair are key strategic roles, guiding National Parks England’s priorities and aspirations, maintaining political links, and supporting National Park Authorities’ work in partnership with local communities, landowners and a range of other organisations and interest groups, including thousands of volunteers, to look after these special places for everyone.
Neil has been a Member of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority for 9 years and is one of four Parish Council-appointees on the board. He was elected Chair of the National Park Authority in June 2020.