16th Nov, 2019

Major report endorses West Midlands national park idea to government

Felix Nobes 13th Aug, 2019 Updated: 13th Aug, 2019

A CAMPAIGN to have the Meriden Gap and other green areas designated in a national park has been welcomed by a government report.

The proposed West Midlands National Park would give greater protection to the huge swathe of greenbelt land which separates Coventry and Solihull towns from Birmingham.

The idea is to encompass the Meriden Gap in the park, which would include other green areas such as Blythe River Valley.

The park could span more than seven cities and preserve hundreds of miles of green space, conservation areas and new cycle routes.

National parks are relatively undeveloped and scenic landscape that are designated under UK law and afforded protections.

An independent report entitled Landscapes Review has been sent to environment minister Michael Gove endorsing the plans for the regional park.

The ambitious proposals have been drawn up by Kathryn Moore, professor of Landscape Architecture at Birmingham City University.

Professor Moore said: “The interim findings of this report demonstrate a welcome appetite to take a different look at how we view our cities and reimagine what these spaces are, and what they could become.

“A West Midlands National Park would be a vehicle to help drive social, economic and environmental change in the region, profoundly changing its identity.

“It is a vision of what the West Midlands can become when the significance of its landscape is properly realised and celebrated.

“Above all, this proposal’s central purpose is real transformation.”

Latest developments in the proposals were showcased in front of hundreds of delegates from across the globe during the two-day ‘SATURN’ event held at Birmingham City University’s City Centre Campus from July 31 to August 1.

The West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA) portfolio lead for the environment and leader of Solihull Council Ian Courts added: “We have just set new carbon reduction targets for the West Midlands to reach net-zero emissions no later than 2041.

“More cycle routes, forests and woodland can help us achieve that.

“This is an encouraging report and dovetails with the steps we are already taking as a region to safeguard our green spaces and tackle climate change.”

Meriden MP Dame Caroline Spelman told us last year she and professor Moore have been working on a plan to increase protections for the Blythe River Valley in the Meriden Gap since 2014.

The Meriden constituency, which will be the first point of call for HS2 – high speed rail – outside London, has been identified by Professor Moore as an area that could significantly benefit from this proposal.

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