The history of Snowdonia national park falls into three periods. Between 1951 and 1974 it was very much a period of finding its feet and seeing how the work of the organization developed over these years, when it was important to gain the goodwill of the local community and local organizations. Some objected to the word “national” and others to the inclusion of non elected members. In the austere post war era economic development was a priority, and the decisions made in this period reflect those times. Young people back from the armed services became disillusioned and moved away. This was a great time of expansion in the motor industries in the midlands.
The 1974 local government reorganisation presented and opportunity for change and the national park became a department of Gwynedd County Council. This period was one of building on the work that had been done in previous years. Many sites were brought and made into facilities for visitors and for the first time the park now had its own planning section and was able to regulate development. In 1996 following the Edwards report and the 1995 environment Act, the park became and independent authority and now reports directly to the Welsh Assembly Government.
Snowdonia National Park came into existence on the 18th October 1951> the national park covered a total of 837 square miles of land in the countries of Caernarvonshire, Denbighshire, and Merioneth. It was the third National Park to be designated, and the first in Wales.
Snowdonia was designated a national park following the 1949 national park and access to the Countryside Act, which became a result of pioneering work during the 1940’s by John Dower and many others. A study to identify boundaries for the National Park began in 1950 and a team from the national parks commission including Clough Williams-Ellis recommended the boundary we have today. The criterion for inclusion in the park was outstanding scenic beauty, which led to the exclusion of the state production areas and some urban developments.
In 2001 the park was 50 years old, but the celebrations were muted as the dreadful foot and mouth disease once again posed a treat to farmers. Visitor numbers fell drastically as foot paths were closed to halt the spread of the disease. When the four footpaths reopened in May there was much rejoicing as the spread of the foot and mouth slowed down, and by early June all access was restored to the park. The fiftieth anniversary was celebrated by the refurbished information centre at Betws Y Coed which was opened on the 18th of October 50 years to the day the park was born.
The aims and objectives of Snowdonia National Park is to help address the problems of agriculture- which is going well with the completion of a four year project, encouraging farmers to restore landscape features such as stone walls and traditional buildings, and protecting and enhancing specific wildlife habitats, such as moorland and native woodland. The scheme has been designed to help Wales’ agriculture communities. It also wants to see a rise in tourism in the area since the footpaths were reopened and ensure that the communities of the area, with their unique language and culture, survive and prosper. Detailed attention will continue to focus on the landscape, sustainable transport, access to the countryside and biodiversity.
The Snowdonia National Park Authority has 18 members, 9 local councillors appointed by Gwynedd council, 3 Local councillors appointed by Conwy County Borough Council, and 6 members appointed by the Welsh assembly Government.
The Authority meets fives times a year at Plas Tan y Bwlch. The meetings are held in Welsh with simultaneous translation.
Members also serve on various committees, panels and working groups. Authority meetings are open to the public.
Each year the National Park is required to submit a bid to the National Assembly for revenue funding. Based on the bid, which is incorporated within the Authority’s bidding document, the Assembly, in consultation with the Countryside Council for Wales, determines the National Park grant for the forth coming year.
In determining the amount of the grant, the Assembly also determines the minimum about that can be raised by the National Park Authority for the financial year by way of levies to be borne by constituent Councils (billing Authorities) The grant represents 75% of the total net revenue expenditure deemed appropriate by the Assembly for the National Park, while the remaining 25% is raised by the way of levies.
In addition to this funding the Authority receives income from fees and charges for services and received grants and contributions from other bodies and organisations.
Capital expenditure in the year amounted to ï¿½587k. The expenditure in the year was financed by:
* National Assembly grant- 220k
* Direct revenue funding -141k
* Capital receipts – 49k
* Other bodies – 177k
One thing is certain. Snowdonia National Park Authority has a vital role to play in the future of the area and will become increasingly important as it moves towards its centenary.