13 September 2012
Our National Trails are treasured long distance routes through the most beautiful areas of our countryside and are hugely important and valuable to our economy and the millions of people who enjoy them.
To ensure the long term protection and maintenance of National Trails, Natural England recently ran a consultation that focussed on improving how they are managed and funded – the first time this had been looked at for ten years. This consultation confirmed the Government’s long-term commitment to securing and supporting these much loved routes.
In the consultation Natural England received 140 responses from a number of organisations which are closely involved in the care and maintenance of the Trails. These are now being carefully analysed and the response to the consultation will be published, following further partner discussion, by April 2013. Natural England and Defra are committed to completing the current review, which will give National Trails a more secure and well-managed future and makes the most of these important national and local assets for the benefit of all trail users, local communities and business. This remains our priority over the coming months.
The Ramblers have proposed that an independent Trust is set up to look after National Trails in the future. We welcome this wider contribution to the important debate on the long term management of National Trails.
Clearly this proposal, or any other new management model would require further consideration, development and discussion with all interested parties, including the local highway authorities (the local authorities responsible for maintaining the trails), other user groups and landowners. We will help facilitate this discussion, as we progress more immediate changes that are needed to help secure the future of our National Trails.