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South Downs National Park celebrates it's 4th birthday

south downs
The South Downs is celebrating four years as a national park Credit: ITV Meridian

The UK's newest national park, the South Downs in West Sussex is celebrating it's fourth anniversary today. Special walks will be taking place throughout the region to mark the occasion.

Robert Self, a Society spokesperson, said "For over sixty years, campaigners worked for the South Downs to be recognized as a National Park.

Its outstanding landscape and network of historic pathways finally received the protection they deserved in 2010 and we will be celebrating this 4th anniversary by enjoying the stunning spring scenery on three superb walks".

The National Park was created on 1 April 2010, and the National Park Authority took up its full powers as planning and access authority on 1 April 2011. The Society has praised the National Park Authority for its work, by acting to protect and enhance the precious landscape of the South Downs.

Sheep helping with project on South Downs

Now, here is a fascinating fact - the South Downs are home to one of the most precious habitats on earth. Chalk grassland supports many threatened species, and it's rarer than rainforest.

Now, conservationists are trying to create more chalk grassland, and they've drafted in flocks of sheep to help improve the habitat for wildlife. Malcolm Shaw reports.

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The fight is on to stop fracking in the South

Video. It's already prompted protests and petitions and now the first legal blockade is being launched to try to prevent fracking in the heart of the region's countryside.

Although it's been ruled out at Balcombe in Sussex, there are many other potential sites including Hampshire, Dorset, Oxfordshire, the Isle of Wight and Sussex.

But residents living at Fernhurst in the South Downs National Park are directly challenging the government about plans to drill under their homes.

Andrew Pate reports.

£77m to promote cycling in cities

A big cash injection has been announced to promote cycling throughout our region.

A total of £77m will be divided between chosen areas nationwide, which include Oxford, Cambridge, New Forest and South Downs.

Alongside local contributions, the total new funding for cycling is £148m between now and 2015.

The Government have commitment to encourage changes to the way roads are built and altered.

Patrick McLoughlin, Transport Secretary, said: "We have seen significant growth in the number of cyclists in London over the last few years. But cycling shouldn't be confined to the capital."

Following our success in the Olympics, the Paralympics and the Tour de France, British cycling is riding high - now we want to see cycling soar.

This Government wants to make it easier and safer for people who already cycle as well as encouraging far more people to take it up and business, local government, developers, road users and the transport sector all have a role to play in helping to achieve this."

– David Cameron

New Forest cycling get £3.6m boost

Family on bikes
The new scheme will encourage families to cycle in the New Forest Credit: New Forest National Park authority

A family cycling scheme in the New Forest National Park has been awarded £3.6m by the government.

The money will help to create more than 30 jobs and boost the local economy.

The New Forest National Park will benefit from a share of the Department for Transport's £17m funding.

The government's money will be matched with £2.2m from the private sector and local authorities.

The proposed projects for the park will promote active family lifestyles, respect the character of the New Forest

The Department for Transport said the New Forest National Park Authority was given funding because its proposal was innovative, creative and achievable by March 2015.

Barry Rickman, leader of New Forest District Council, said: "Cycling already provides support to the New Forest’s economy and with it the creation of associated employment. Cycling already provides support to the New Forest’s economy and with it the creation of associated employment.

"We are pleased that this economic growth opportunity is recognised within the scheme and that plans are in place throughout the towns and villages that make up the forest’s local community."

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Oxford and New Forest to get funding

Cycling has grown in popularity in recent years Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

The initiative includes plans to make roads safer for those on two wheels and means a number of English cities will get Government money for cycling schemes. A total of £77 million will be divided between Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford and Norwich.

Also, the New Forest, Peak District, South Downs and Dartmoor areas will each share a slice of £17 million funding for national parks. With local contributions, the total new funding for cycling is £148 million between now and 2015.

The announcement includes a commitment from the Government to cut red tape that can stifle cycle-friendly road design and to encourage changes to the way roads are built or altered.

National parks 'contribute billions to the economy'

Ponies grazing in the New Forest National Park at Lyndhurst, Hampshire Credit: PA

Activities within England's national parks contribute billions of pounds to the economy, a report has found.

National Parks England said the ten sites generate between £4.1 billion and £6.3 billion for the economy, which is the equivalent to the UK aerospace industry.

It added that more than half of the English population lives within an hour's drive of a national park, receiving about 90 million visitors a year.

But there are a number of challenges facing the national parks, including the economic downturn which has hit the tourism industry, a high reliance on industries such as farming which can struggle to be profitable and a lack of broadband, mobile phone reception and affordable housing.

Environment minister Richard Benyon said: "Our national parks are the most treasured places in the country. More than 90 million people visit them each year, helping to boost economic growth in rural areas.

"This report highlights the value of these areas in promoting tourism and contributing to the UK economy."

Sheep attack farmers say 'Keep dogs on leads'

by Malcolm Shaw

Farmers on the South Downs are asking dog owners to keep their pets on their leads when they are around sheep, after a number of serious attacks.

At this time of year, many ewes are pregnant and may miscarry their lambs if they feel stressed. Police are warning the dog owners that they could face prosecution if their animals are out of control around livestock. Malcolm Shaw reports.

The interviewees are: Tim Armour, a farmer; and Jan Knowlson - a ranger for the South Downs National Park.

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