A NEW group is calling for Natural England to consider making the Dorset coast part of a new national park.

The Dorset and East Devon National Park Group wants Natural England to consider the case for turning the area, including the current Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, into a national park.

Currently the Jurassic Coast is a world heritage site, comprising eight sites of undeveloped coastline and cliffs between Studland Bay and Exmouth in Devon. The group said the proposal had been looked at in the 1940s but due to ‘administrative difficulties’ the area had missed out on designation.

The group said that making the site into a national park would have great benefits.

A spokesman said: “A national park on the basis now proposed would have economic, social and environmental benefits, would support increased open air recreational use with national and community health, economic and social gains, and protect geology, landscapes and habitats, promoting vital increased connectivity between designated areas in line with Natural England’s designations strategy.”

The group said national park authorities had a duty to conserve and enhance the beauty of the area. The group also said it is there to promote the area’s enjoyment through open air recreation and a duty to foster the economic and social wellbeing of local communities. The spokesman said the group realised the journey towards creating a national park would be a long one. The spokesman said: “Every journey starts with a first step. “That first step is the group’s request to Natural England to look at the evidence for a Dorset and East Devon national park, as part of the review starting soon. “The time is right to take this step.”

But East Devon District Council has already recommended councillors oppose the plans over concerns they could lose planning powers. Paul Diviani, leader of EDDC, said if they lost planning powers it could put pressure for housing on other areas not designated as part of the national park.

Natural England said they had not received an application from the Dorset and East Devon National Park Group. Sam Rose, the team leader for the Jurassic Coast Team which looks after the world heritage site, said that they had heard of the plans. He said: “We are aware of it and will look at it in due course, but not at the moment.”

A spokesman for Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and West Dorset District Council, said: “It is very early days, and neither West Dorset District Council nor Weymouth and Portland Borough Council has given a formal view on the idea.”