We are very lucky to live in an area surrounded by the beautiful Surrey Hills landscape, and I think we need to be doing all we can to protect it—but that is not the only reason we should be extending its protected area. The Surrey Hills National Landscape (formally called Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) are places where it is more difficult to get planning permission for housing and developments, so wildlife habitats are protected. This means extending the Surrey Hills National Landscape also boosts biodiversity and plays its part in responding to the climate crisis. The Surrey Hills is where I grew up, where I trained for my last two marathons with my beloved Labrador Poppy, and where I and so many others restore our mental health after whatever craziness the work week brings.
As part of my Green Spaces campaign, I helped to persuade Natural England that the Surrey Hills National Landscape should be considered for significant boundary extension. The consultation received around 1500 responses and we are now waiting on a response from Natural England. I also invited the Environment Secretary so she could see the beautiful landscape for herself and meet the Surrey Hills Board. The Surrey Hills National Landscape extension would be the first extension to the Surrey Hills boundaries since 1958 and would increase the area by 25%, taking the overall protection level in Surrey to over 30%, so I really do hope it gets accepted.
I want to go one step further though and secure National Park status for the Surrey Hills. That means it would become a planning authority in its own right and we would have more access to funding to protect the space and its biodiversity. If you agree with me, please do sign the petition below or under the Surrey Hills Petition 2023 tab above.