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Campaign begins to make Romney Marsh a national park

By Sam Lennon

Sombre (Save our Marsh Block Rural Exploitation) says the status, bringing it to the same level as Dartmoor and the Lake District, would protect the area from unwanted development.

But first it is a launching a public consultation on the plan to gauge local support.

Lydd Looking out towards Dungeness power station. Picture Paul Amos

Lydd Looking out towards Dungeness power station. Picture: Paul Amos

The campaign is called Romance (Redesignate Our Marsh A National Community Environment).

Patricia Rolfe, the pressure group’s leader, said: “The Marsh is a very special and unique place. We want to protect and nurture it, to keep it as an attractive tourism area with sensitive development.”

Patricia Rolfe, New Romney town councillor and leader of environmental pressure group

Patricia Rolfe, New Romney town councillor and leader of environmental pressure group

Britain’s existing national parks have been set up to conserve and enhance their areas’ natural beauty and wildlife.

Sombre’s vision of a national park would cover all the Romney Marsh geographical area, its main bulk of land in Shepway and overlapping into the Ashford and Rother districts.

“Designating the whole Marsh a national park would help protect the area while formally acknowledging the rich environmental, natural and build cultural heritage" - Patricia Rolfe

Mrs Rolfe points out that parts of Romney Marsh are protected by various designations such as Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation, both in Dungeness, and Special Protection Area, from Dungeness to Pett Level near Winchelsea.

But she says: “None of the designations cover the whole Marsh, meaning that there are some areas that are exposed and vulnerable to speculative developments.

“Designating the whole Marsh a national park would help protect the area while formally acknowledging the rich environmental, natural and build cultural heritage.’’

At this stage Sombre is only asking for local opinion and a long process of getting the status, through the Department of Communities and Local Government, could carry on over the next decade.

Prospect Cottage, artist Derek Jarman's former home and garden on the shingle at Dungeness. Picture Gary Browne

Prospect Cottage, artist Derek Jarman's former home and garden on the shingle at Dungeness. Picture: Gary Browne

Mrs Rolfe said: “The South Downs National Park certainly took years to set up.

“We would have a lot of administrative hoops to jump but at this stage we are only dipping our toe in the water.

“We want to send a message out to local people to see if we can get positive support.’’

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