ADVOCATES of a Dorset National Park have been given a boost as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn mentioned the area’s potential for the designation.

In his election campaign, Mr Corbyn unveiled plans to create ten new National Parks as part of Labour’s ‘Plan for Nature’ project.

He said that coastal Dorset would be among the likely contenders for this status, along with the Cotswolds, Chiltern Hills, the north and south Pennines, coastal Suffolk and the Lincolnshire Wolds.

The Echo previously reported that the Glover Landscapes Review, which reviewed AONBs, said that Dorset, along with the Cotswolds and the Chilterns, is a contender for National Park status.

It also reported that Dorset Council was divided over the prospect of a National Park in Dorset, with some councillors saying that it could bring investment to the region and others raising concerns that it could result in a loss of local decision-making controls.

Overall, however, the council decided that it would consider the issue again upon the government’s reaction to the review.

Large swathes of Dorset are currently designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), which means it is marked out as a region for conservation and protected by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

A National Park differs from an AONB in that they have National Park Authorities with greater planning powers.

Mr Corbyn said: “This election is our last chance to tackle the climate and environment emergency. Labour is on your side and on the side of the environment.

“We’ll expand and restore our habitats and plant trees so that we can create natural solutions to bring down emissions and allow our wildlife to flourish.

“Labour created the first National Parks, and we’ll create ten more, giving people the access to the green spaces so vital for our collective wellbeing and mental health.”

He claimed that his plans would mean three quarters of people will live within 30 minutes of a National Park. The Labour leader also pledged to plant two billion trees by 2040 and create one million new jobs with a ‘Green Industrial Revolution’.

As part of the party’s ‘Plan for Nature’, Labour intends to invest £1.2 billion to restore the UK’s natural habitats and an extra annual funding boost of £75 million to new and existing National Park Authorities.

Labour is not the only party to commit to setting up new National Parks. In their manifesto, the Conservatives also state their intention to create more National Parks and AONBs in line with the Glover Review, although no places, including Dorset, are named specifically.

Peter Bowyer, chairman of the Dorset Campaign to Protect Rural England said: “Both the Conservative and Labour Party manifestos make commitments to establish new National Parks. Dorset is the outstanding candidate for National Park status. Securing Dorset’s long-overdue National Park as a close partner and delivery arm for the Dorset Council and our communities, bringing additional resources to invest in our outstanding environment and cultural heritage and helping communities, businesses, farmers and land managers to thrive.”

Dorset National Park, a Community Interest Company calling for the area to get this status, also welcomed the two parties’ calls for more National Parks.

A spokesman said: “Dorset is the outstanding candidate for National Park status. It has very special geodiversity (including the World Heritage “Jurassic” Coast), amazing landscape and unique wildlife diversity, “gold standard” cultural heritage and wide-ranging recreational opportunities. A National Park has so much to offer everyone in Dorset as well as the nation.

“Dorset also needs a National Park to better safeguard our environment and heritage which continue to be under threat from environmental challenges and inappropriate development.”