Theresa Villiers, Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, came to Northumberland National Park and The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre to see for herself the work being done to conserve and enhance the environment and engage and inspire people to enjoy and care for it.
She met with farmers at Sewingshields farm on Hadrian’s Wall to discuss the Environmental Land Management Schemes and the Defra-funded pilot project restoring historic farm buildings.
She then visited The Sill, which opened in July 2017 as part of a wider initiative to engage more people with the countryside and rich heritage.
Whilst there, Ms Villiers met three local schools and a community group to see how Northumberland National Park is transforming the way people connect with the landscape.
The engagement activities taking place demonstrated how the Park had set an example of best practice in community engagement and environmental conservation.
The Park’s focus on environmental outcomes and sustainability was the centrepiece of a discussion, hosted by Northumberland National Park chairman Glen Sanderson and attended by a range of key stakeholders, including the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, North East Chamber of Commerce, Northumberland County Council, Forestry England, Natural England and the Environment Agency.
A range of topics were discussed with Ms Villiers highlighting partnership approaches, enhancement of biodiversity, acting on climate change, and supporting the rural economy and productivity as key matters.
Ms Villiers said: “I was delighted to visit The Sill as we launched our Environment Bill, which sets a gold standard for protecting nature, improving air quality, increasing recycling and cutting down plastic waste.
“One of the things I was really impressed by during my visit was the work being undertaken to engage a wide section of society and allow them to have a real ownership of our countryside and landscape.”
Northumberland National Park chief executive Tony Gates said: “The Secretary of State’s visit demonstrates how important National Parks are to helping protect the environment, tackling climate change, engaging future generations with landscape and supporting the rural economy.”