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COVID-19 UPDATE

Following Government advice to stay safe and protect the NHS, we are working hard to continue to deliver for you. Find information here on how to enjoy the National Park virtually, and how our services are operating during this time.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Updated – 29 May 2020

This week has seen the announcement that restrictions are easing slightly. It is important to note that the Government has stressed that social distancing must remain in place.

“So from Monday we will allow up to six people to meet outside – provided those from different households continue strictly to observe social distancing rules by staying two metres apart. . . But I must stress that to control the virus, everyone needs to stay alert, act responsibly, strictly observe social distancing rules, and stay two metres apart from those who you do not live with.” 

– Prime Minister’s speech 28 March 2020

Our absolute priority remains the safety of our visitors as well as the 117,000 people living and working within the National Park. We have set out some guidance on how to access the National Park safely. Please keep yourself, our communities and our wildlife safe.

Can I travel to the National Park?

Yes – but please observe the “three Rs” by exercising restraint, responsibility and respect.

  • Restraint in observing social distancing at all times.
  • Responsibility for your health and the health of all those you encounter.
  • Respect for the communities you visit and the wildlife you encounter, particularly by avoiding the busiest locations.

The Government’s key advice remains:

  • You must continue to stay 2m away from anyone not in your immediate household. 
  • People should check in advance of visiting places like National Parks and beaches to make sure they are prepared for visitors
  • The rules are different in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland so please make sure you follow the guidance issued by the relevant devolved administration.

Read the full FAQs on what you can and can’t do under the Government guidance.

Read the full UK Government Covid-19 Recovery Strategy.

Our 10 guidelines on accessing the National Park safely:

  • Stay 2m safe: Adhere to strict social distancing of 2m apart from others who are not in your household – this is applies to any form of exercise such as walking, running or cycling or sitting or sunbathing. 
  • Avoid hotspots and busy spots: We know everyone has their favourite place in the National Park or maybe more than one, but if large numbers of people head to the same place, it becomes impossible to safely socially distance, putting you, your family and others at risk. Last weekend’s media coverage showed how busy the Coastal areas of the National Park were over the last week so best to avoid those areas and explore other areas. With 3,300km of rights of way, there is plenty of space to visit safely. If you arrive at a site that is already busy, please find an alternative.
  • Cliff safety: If you are heading to the coast please heed the call of our wonderful Coastguards and keep yourself safe by staying away from cliff edges and from walking on the beach under the cliffs. 
  • Take your litter home: As always most of our visitors love the National Park and take their litter home but unfortunately in some places, litter has become a huge problem. It is dangerous to wildlife and livestock and it ruins the experience of the National Park for everyone. If you are out and about and see litter, why not do your part for the National Park and bin it.
  • Support our farmers: Did you know more than 75% of the South Downs National Park is farmed?  Our farmers have been working hard to maintain food supplies during the pandemic. Support them and our communities by sticking to the path, keeping dogs on the lead around livestock, not picnicing on private land and taking your litter home. There are many young livestock out in the National Park and we have had some reports of people trying to walk through fields with no rights of way or picnicking in fields with young livestock – please keep your dogs on a lead and remember that animal mums are protective of their babies too. 
  • Respect wildlife: We know from the great response on our social media during the lockdown, that you love our amazing wildlife. This is an important time for wildlife with ground nesting birds and many others at risk of being disturbed, and young livestock being born. Please show your support for our wildlife and vital animal grazers by keeping your dog on the lead, sticking to the path and taking your litter home.
  • Do not light BBQs or fire: The ground is tinder dry at the moment and we have had some instances of fires been lit – one under a grove of ancient yew trees that are over 1000 years old. Please do not use BBQs or light fires in the National Park. 
  • Travel sustainably: If you can, journey by foot or bike. This means you experience the wonderful National Park as you travel and you don’t have to worry about finding a car parking space.
  • Be aware and stick to the Government guidelines at all times: Government fines are still in place for those who break the rules.  Hampshire and Sussex Police are carrying out regular patrols and fines could be incurred for not sticking to the Government rules. 

If you are self-isolating or shielding, we commit to continue bringing you the beauty of the National Park through our social media channels, website and monthly e-newsletter.

Kate Drake, our Health and Wellbeing Officer, has some quick ideas on how you can connect with nature remotely:

  • Join a virtual walk. The South Downs National Park has a number of walks at beauty spots. Find them on the National Park’s video section on Facebook.
  • Enjoy our wonderful wildlife. The National Park’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels are a treasure trove of South Downs flora, fauna and breathtaking landscapes, including stunning footage of otters, reptiles, birds, our magical woodlands, and colourful chalk grassland. Why not check out our Barn Owl cam?
  • Be part of the South Downs National Park community. Join the conversation on our social media channels, share images of your favourite places in the National Park and join our newsletter for updates about the National Park.
  • For parents with children at home, check out the South Downs Learning Zone. Designed for educators, this user-friendly site is packed with downloadable resources on everything from wildlife to woodlands. Why not spend a couple of hours learning about the natural world and doing one of the fun indoor activities?
  • Follow the daily wildlife diaries from the Sussex Wildlife Trust.

The South Downs National Park is a place where nature and people come together. So, let’s protect each other and nature, as we hopefully begin to move towards better days together.

Remember to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for our latest social media posts and updates.


Our latest statements


South Downs Centre

All of our offices are now closed.

However, our reception team is still on hand to assist you if you have any queries.

Please email info@southdowns.gov.uk or, alternatively, call 01730 814810 


Contacting staff

All of our staff are working from home but can be contacted by email or phone as normal.

In line with Government guidance, staff will not be having face-to-face meetings to ensure the safety of everyone.


Planning applications

At the moment new planning applications are being registered.

Further information as to how Planning Committee is operating can be found here


Committees

Following the most recent Government advice and the Coronavirus Act 2020, the SDNPA will now be holding Authority and Committee meetings (including Planning Committee) virtually until further notice.  All meeting agendas and papers will be available on the website 5 working days before the meeting.

The Authority’s Standing Orders contain a scheme of Delegation and Urgency Powers that allows the Chief Executive and other Senior Officers to make delegated and urgent decisions, including that of Planning decisions where there is delegated responsibility to do so (any decisions made are available to view here). Any urgent decisions will be taken following consultation with the Chair of the Authority and other Members as appropriate.

Planning applications will continue to be processed in line with our usual procedures and the public will still have the opportunity to comment on planning applications in the usual way.

At this time we would encourage use of the Public Access Pages and emails rather than letters for obvious reasons.

We would similarly encourage the submission of new planning applications via the Planning Portal or by email rather than paper based submissions.

For any other enquires regarding the Committee and Authority meetings please email committee.officer@southdowns.gov.uk


Volunteers

To keep our lovely volunteers safe and in line with Government guidance, we have suspended all volunteering until further notice.


Supporting businesses

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" The Downs...too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness. "