Following a national, open, competition, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has appointed Stephen Whale as a Member of the South Downs National Park Authority.
The South Downs National Park stretches from Winchester to Eastbourne, covering more than 600 square miles. It has the largest population of any of England’s National Parks, and over 18 million visitors annually. It includes the iconic chalk hills, the Western Weald and several miles of coastline. Over 70% of the National Park is farmland. There are 2,000 miles of rights of way, 575 scheduled monuments and 13 European wildlife sites.
The Authority’s Members are a combination of Secretary of State appointees and councillors. They are responsible for discharging the statutory duties with respect to the Park in terms of conservation and enhancement, promoting opportunities for understanding and enjoyment as well as seeking to foster the economic and social well-being of the Park’s communities. Members determine the Authority’s policies, procedures and priorities. The Authority is also the statutory local planning authority for the Park, with responsibility for all planning applications and the South Downs Local Plan.
Stephen has loved the countryside and countryside pursuits all his life. He is a member of the Agricultural Law Association, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, the Planning and Environment Bar Association and the CPRE Legal Panel. His work very often has a rural dimension, including NPPF 79e new country houses, rights of way, felling licences, biodiversity gain, habitats regulations assessments, prior approval, village greens and commons. Stephen is periodically appointed as a village green Inspector. He is one of the authors of a forthcoming book on planning and rights of way in the National Parks, to be published in the Autumn by Law Brief Publishing. When he is not working, Stephen is often to be found managing the sheep and hens at his home in the South Downs or out in the hills of the Scottish Highlands.