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Interim Chief Executive leads South Downs National Park into 2024

Interim Chief Executive leads South Downs National Park into 2024

December 12, 2023

Tim Slaney, Interim Chief Executive of the South Downs National Park Authority

The South Downs National Park Authority has appointed Tim Slaney as its Interim Chief Executive Officer.

Following a meeting of Authority Members, Tim has succeeded Trevor Beattie, who retired on 1 January after 12 years at the helm of Britain’s youngest National Park.

Trevor was the Authority’s first permanent CEO, overseeing the significant progress the National Park has made on biodiversity restoration, landscape enhancement, creating new access routes, raising the profile of the region at a national level and ensuring more people of all ages and backgrounds can enjoy the South Downs.

Tim steps up after 12 years on the Authority’s Senior Management Team, setting up and leading one of the country’s busiest planning teams. During this time as Director he has overseen the creation of the award-winning, landscape-led South Downs Local Plan, a leading neighbourhood community planning programme, new affordable housing, more vital infrastructure for local communities and a groundbreaking Community Infrastructure Levy scheme in a National Park. Tim has taken a leading role on managing operations at Seven Sisters Country Park. He is most proud of the award given by the Royal Town Planning Institute for environmental excellence around planning as a whole, including teambuilding and culture.

Tim will be taking forward the National Park’s pioneering work around nature recovery, climate action and ensuring the South Downs continues to be a National Park for all.  

Tim is passionate about making sure young people and those from underrepresented communities have access to green spaces and all that National Parks have to offer. Having been adopted as a young boy, Tim was lucky enough to spend much of his childhood exploring Britain’s National Parks with his parents. His love of places and landscape inspired him to study geography at university and undertake rural farm-related work in Pembrokeshire National Park in Wales.  Tim went on to work for several local authorities, including in Hertfordshire, Wiltshire, and Berkshire.

He brought that love of landscape, and the ability for everyone to be able to enjoy it, to his role at the National Park, where he has led on its Equality, Diversity and Inclusion work and been a strong supporter of its work with partners and local communities in and around the National Park. A keen walker, lover of the arts, a poor cello player, and a former national junior squash champion, Tim lives with his family in Petersfield.

Tim said: “It is an honour to be appointed interim Chief Executive of the South Downs National Park Authority and I look forward to building on the tremendous legacy that Trevor has passed on.

“Nature and people are at the heart of everything the National Park does and I want to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy this treasured landscape and reap the benefits of its beauty and biodiversity.

“It’s a crucial time for National Parks, with new emerging policies around environment and access, nature, planning and climate change. Together we have a real opportunity to face the challenges and grasp the opportunities to make the South Downs National Park an even better place for people and nature.

“I look forward to leading the Authority’s dedicated staff team and working with our Members, volunteers, partners, landowners, farmers, and communities to continue the National Park’s innovative and creative work.”

Trevor said: “I have been immensely proud to have been the first permanent Chief Executive of the South Downs National Park Authority, but the time has now come for me to retire.  We have together – staff, Members and volunteers – achieved a huge amount over the last 12 years and I know that the National Park will continue to innovate and thrive under the leadership of Vanessa and Tim.”

Vanessa Rowlands, Chair of the National Park Authority, said: “Trevor Beattie has been the Authority’s first Chief Executive in its short lifetime. He has shaped this young National Park over his 12 years of tenure into being a modern, dynamic and innovative National Park Authority, delivering on its priorities of nature recovery and action on climate change, as well as making it a welcoming Park for all communities of the UK.

“I know the whole Authority wishes Trevor the very best in his retirement.

“With Tim Slaney as our interim CEO, we have continuity of strong leadership to steer us through this next phase. There are challenges ahead such as changes in national policy and pressures on funding, but I, and the rest of the membership, look forward to working with Tim and the new senior management team to deliver on our priorities.”

Tim will be leading the Authority’s team of 180 staff.

The process of appointing a permanent Chief Executive Officer will begin next year.

  • The South Downs National Park was created in 2010 and the National Park Authority was created in 2011.
  • The South Downs National Park is the third largest National Park in England and has the largest National Park population, with 117,000 residents. From rolling hills to bustling market towns, the South Downs National Park’s landscapes cover 1,600km2 of breathtaking views, including 18 distinctive landscapes, 13 European wildlife sites and more woodland than any other National Park in England or Wales.
  • The South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) is responsible for keeping the South Downs a special place, including conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area, and ensuring everybody has the opportunity to enjoy the National Park. It is also the planning authority for the National Park. The Authority is a public body, funded by the government, and run by a Board of 27 Members, including representatives from local authorities, parishes and national appointees.
  • Mike Hughes steps up as Interim Director of Planning during this period.