PLANS have been announced to make the Malvern Hills a national park, which would bring millions of pounds of new investment to the area.

The Labour Party's proposals to introduce 10 new national parks across the country include the Malvern Hills.

Labour says the move would bring an estimated £260million in investment into the West Midlands and create more than 2,300 jobs, as work takes place to improve the sites which become national parks, while a new authority would manage the Hills.

The party claims an estimated 31 million trees will be planted across more than 10,000 hectares of the West Midlands, including the Malvern Hills.

Labour's parliamentary candidate for West Worcestershire, Samantha Charles, and her Conservative rival, Harriett Baldwin, have both backed the plan.

The proposal also includes a commitment to plant two billion new trees across England by 2040, in order to tackle the climate and environment emergency.

Mrs Charles said: “I am delighted that Labour have announced our 'Plan for Nature' to plant two billion trees and create 10 new national parks including the Malvern Hills.

“75 per cent of people will live within half an hour of a national park with all the physical and mental health benefits that will bring.

“This is a huge step in tackling the climate emergency and protecting our countryside and wildlife.”

Sites which are earmarked for national park status will be judged on their current state of environmental degradation, their potential for carbon removal, the potential for increased biodiversity, the existing management planning capacity, and how accessible the parks will be to nearby towns and cities.

Restored habitats will mean endangered species such as wading birds, hedgehogs, red squirrels, water voles, fish and insect life can recover and be re-established in the Malvern Hills.

The Malvern Hills Trust, which manages the hills, said: “We have seen today’s announcement in the Labour manifesto for the Malvern Hills to be considered as one of 10 new National Parks in England.

“We have been caring for the Malvern Hills and surrounding commons since 1884 to conserve the important features and special qualities here.

“Should it go ahead, the National Park designation would not be likely to alter land ownership or the Malvern Hills Acts which apply to all 1,200 hectares of the land under our jurisdiction.

“We have seen no further details regarding this proposal so cannot comment further.”

Mrs Baldwin said: “The Malvern Hills Conservators is the oldest environmental organisations in the world, protecting our beautiful area.

“Last year we commissioned the Glover review and our manifesto commits to implementing its recommendations and creating new National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“The Cotswolds, including Bredon Hill, is on track to become a new national park and I would always support investing in our natural heritage.”

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