Difficult times for Welsh National Parks

Budget cuts to three Welsh national parks may lead to job losses and have impacts on the level of service.

Snowdonia National Park Photo credit: Ian Caroll
Snowdonia National Park Photo credit: Ian Carol

Local jobs and tourism quality are threatened as Welsh national parks face important financial cuts due to government reduction to public spending.

The Welsh government has yet to confirm the budget but the three Welsh National Parks, Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire Coast, and Snowdonia have been warned that they would face a budget reduction of up to 5% in the coming year.

Emyr Williams, Chief Executive of Snowdonia National Park, says that this reduction is not the first one and that the park actually went over a 40% budget reduction over the past 10 years.

The implications of such cuts are important and represent up to 423.000£ in the case of Snowdonia National Park. Measures have to be taken in order to cope with the budget reduction and involve the redundancy of more than 15 staff members from the three Welsh National Parks.

Making people redundant is necessary to accommodate the new budget, however it is not enough to cope with the extent of the cut. So other ways have to be found and include solutions such as increasing the incomes of the parks through car parks, visitor centres and study centres.

One key issue with these changes is that visitors might also be impacted by the changes. Williams says: “Now we’re entering to the phase of having to reduce the level of service we provide. So we’re looking at aspects such as less footpath work, less information centre, less biodiversity work, less restoration of traditional farm buildings, and less archaeological work.”

This decrease in level of service will not affect Snowdonia only and the other two parks are also facing difficult decisions. Brecon Beacons National Park Authority Chief Executive, John Cook, says: “We believe that the potential for achieving these cuts through efficiency savings has been exhausted. Whilst there is always the opportunity to achieve further minor savings through efficiency gains we have reached a point where service level cuts have to be introduced.”

Reasons behind this financial cut are unclear. Williams says: “It’s up to the Welsh government to decide its priorities and its priorities are things like education, social services and health. So we seem to be not in the priority area for the Welsh government.”