The search to create a new National Park will get underway early next year - with the Cotswolds, Chilterns, Cornwall and Dorset tipped as potential candidates.

The Tories’ 2019 election-winning manifesto pledged to create “new national parks” but, with a ballot less than 14 months away, the Government has only just launched the competition for one more. Environment Secretary Steve Barclay, who was demoted from Health Secretary in this month’s Cabinet reshuffle, has commissioned Natural England to begin identifying an area which will be considered for designation as the next National Park - the 11th in England and 16th in Britain. Mr Barclay, who will make a final decision, told GB News: "Having an additional National Park and having more community forests, and making them more accessible ... is really important.”

Potential candidates for the honour include Dorset, with its Jurassic Coast; Cornwall, with its picturesque fishing villages and bleak moorlands; the Cotswolds, with its chocolate box villages and farmland; and the Chilterns, the countryside northwest of London where work is underway on the controversial HS2 high-speed railway. The areas are dominated by the Conservative MPs.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “The search for a new National Park – a manifesto commitment – will begin in the new year. This will be focused on looking for England’s most beautiful nature spots, alongside the area’s ability to connect people with nature.”

Labour accused the Conservatives of overseeing the "destruction" of the British countryside. Shadow Environment Secretary Steve Reed claimed: "Under their watch, the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world and waterways face the highest levels of illegal sewage discharges in our history.” Prospect trade union general secretary Mike Clancy also took issue with the Government's nature announcement. "Bold-sounding initiatives can't hide the true state of our rivers, shorelines and natural landscapes," he said.

The current existing National Parks are:

  1. Snowdonia

  2. Northumberland

  3. The Broads

  4. Pembrokeshire

  5. New Forest

  6. Brecon Beacons

  7. South Downs

  8. North York Moors

  9. Yorkshire Dales

  10. Exmoor

  11. Dartmoor

  12. Peak District

  13. Lake District

  14. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs

  15. Cairngorms