FINANCIAL pressure on Exmoor National Park Authority (ENPA) budgets could be eased by an increased Government grant, says the area’s MP.
Ministers have announced an additional £10 million in funding this year for national parks and National Landscapes - the new name for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The extra allocation comes as the preliminary steps were being taken toward creating a new national park as a means of encouraging wider public use of the countryside.
But West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger said with a new national park should come additional money if the pool of funding for the existing ones was not to be further diluted.
Mr Liddell-Grainger said ENPA's administration had come under intense pressure because of successive reductions in Government grants.
He said: “I accept that during the years of austerity some savings had to be achieved but it is time to start reversing that process.
“Jobs have been lost on Exmoor as a consequence of budget reductions and more are threatened, jeopardising the park authority’s ability to properly discharge all its various duties and functions.
“In my view, it is essential that the Government acts to place all the presently designated areas on a sounder financial footing before blithely creating a new national park with all the financial implications that go with it.”
The first national parks were designated 75 years ago as a way of protecting and enhancing the country’s finest landscapes.
Mr Liddell-Grainger said: “The need to protect and enhance is as great now as it was then, if not greater.
“The Government cannot allow the park authorities to carry on running on fumes, they must be given the proper financial tools to do their job.”