Secretary of State members to National Park Authorities and AONB Conservation Boards

Body: National Park Authorities and AONB Conservation Boards
Appointing Department: Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Sector: Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Location: The Chilterns, the Cotswolds, Dartmoor, Exmoor, North York Moors, South Downs
Number of Vacancies: 9
Remuneration: Secretary of State members receive a basic allowance but the varies per National Park/AONB. Please refer to the candidate pack.
Time Requirements: Chilterns AONB Conservation Board 6 days per annum minimum, potentially rising to 12 days. Cotswolds AONB Conservation Board 1-3 days per month. Dartmoor National Park Authority Minimum of 2 days per month. Exmoor National Park Authority Minimum of 2 days per month. North York Moors National Park Authority Minimum of 2 or 3 days per month. South Downs National Park Authority Approximately 48 days per year.

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications

    20/02/2023 at 12:00

  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date


  • Announcement



Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description


There are ten National Parks (including the Broads Authority), and thirty-four Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, including two Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Conservation Boards in England.

The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act (1949) enabled the designation of National Parks and AONBs in England and Wales. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 permitted AONBs to form Conservation Boards to aid management, particularly in cases where AONBs cross several administrative boundaries.

In 2004, Conservation Boards were created for the Chilterns AONB and Cotswolds AONB.

National Parks and Cotswolds and Chilterns AONBs are protected because of their natural beauty and the wealth of opportunities provided for outdoor recreation, being designated nationally and internationally important landscapes. This high-quality environment supports vibrant local economies and communities.

National Parks are administered by individual National Park Authorities.

The Chilterns and Cotswolds AONBs are each administered by a Conservation Board.

Each National Park Authority/ AONB Conservation Board is managed by an executive of permanent staff with oversight from members. Members make decisions about the actions that each National Park Authority/AONB Conservation Board should take to deliver its purposes.

There are typically between 18 and 30 members, either appointed by Defra’s Secretary of State, or elected by local authorities or parish councils.

The executive carries out the necessary work to run the National Parks/AONBs and support and advise the members. Staff include professionals such as ecologists, archaeologists/ heritage experts, rangers, planners, and education specialists.

Defra encourages National Park Authorities/ AONB Conservation Boards to maximise funding from a range of sources to supplement the grant they receive from Government.

Dear Candidate,

Thank you for your interest in becoming a Secretary of State appointed member of a National Park Authority or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Conservation Board. There has never been a more exciting time to be involved with our National Parks and AONBs.

As a Secretary of State member, you will help to identify new opportunities to achieve the Government’s commitment to protect 30% of our land by 2030, and our net zero target. You will also have an important role in championing diversity and inclusion, particularly identifying ways to improve access to our protected landscapes by all parts of society. These landscapes belong to everyone, so we need National Park Authorities and Conservation Boards that reflect our nation.

Delivering these ambitious goals requires passionate and committed people across the protected landscapes family. In recognition of this need, I am seeking enthusiastic and dedicated strategic thinkers who will proudly serve the protected landscapes to ensure they are conserved and enhanced for future generations. Each protected landscape is unique: we require members who can respect local needs while encouraging a coordinated and collaborative approach to national objectives.

If you have the knowledge, skills and experience required to support the nation’s National Parks and AONBs, I look forward to receiving an application from you.

The Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey MP
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Vacancy Description

The overall role of a member is to contribute to the leadership, scrutiny, and direction of the National Park Authority and further the statutory purposes. Members are not representative of any organisation or group and have a duty to act in the best interest of the Authority on which they serve. Certain ineligibility criteria apply to these posts.

The key functions of a member are to:

• Ensure the National Park Authority/AONB Conservation Board furthers its statutory purposes which are described on page 5 of the candidate pack.

• Agree plans that ensure the Park/AONB is a nature rich place that is available to all parts of society, contributes to thriving local communities, is valued as a national asset for its special qualities.

• Represent the Authority/ Board through collaborative working with external stakeholders at a national and local level, including other National Park Authorities and AONB teams.

• Agree appropriate policies to meet statutory duties and participate in collective decision making.

• Encourage a creative, experimental and innovative culture, where risks are appropriately managed.

• Guide the development of policy and business plans by participating in activities as required including meetings, committees and working groups.

• Scrutinise and monitor performance, including providing constructive challenge and oversight of governance.

• Ensure there is effective and efficient governance and management in place.

• Provide leadership and strategic direction towards national priorities.

• Utilise broad knowledge and skills, to manage local and national interests, ensuring the national interest is taken fully into account.

The statutory purposes of National Park Authorities are to:

Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage.

Promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of National Parks by the public.

When National Park authorities carry out these purposes, they also have the duty to seek to foster the economic and social well-being of local communities within the National Parks.

The statutory purposes of AONB Conservation Boards are to:

Conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the AONB.

AONB Conservation Boards have a further responsibility to increase the public understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the area of outstanding natural beauty.

When AONBs carry out these purposes they also have the duty to seek to foster the economic and social well-being of local communities within the AONB.

The Sandford Principle

If there is conflict between the purposes for National Parks and AONBs they are both required by statute to place greater weight to conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the park, a concept known as the ‘Sandford principle’.

Person Specification

1. Enthusiasm and a genuine passion for the work of National Park Authorities and AONB Conservation Boards. This includes conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the areas, and promoting the public’s understanding and enjoyment of the area’s special qualities.

2. An ability to successfully engage with and influence a wide-ranging audience in an ambassador role for an organisation.

3. A demonstrable commitment to promote and increase equality, diversity and inclusion.

4. An ability to think strategically, contribute and scrutinise complex plans and policies.

5. High standards of integrity and impartiality to ensure transparency, strong governance, and efficiency.

Additional Information

NPA and AONB CB interviews:
Chilterns: 27th – 29th March
Cotswolds: 12th & 14th April
Dartmoor: 30th & 31st March
Exmoor: 27th March
North York Moors: 30th March
South Downs: 29th March

Chilterns AONB CB
Deirdre Hanson: 01844 355500

Exmoor NPA
Judy Coles: 01398 322250

Cotswolds AONB CB
Andy Parsons: 07703 717986

Dartmoor NPA
Kevin Bishop: 01626 831004

North York Moors NPA
Judith Seaton: 01439 772700

South Downs NPA
Richard Sandiford: 01730 819357

How to Apply

All candidates are required to complete the following forms:

• Monitoring form 1 (Conflicts of interest conduct and advertising Questionnaire)

• Monitoring form 2 (Diversity Questionnaire)

Candidates should submit their CV with education, professional qualifications and employment history and the names and contact details for two referees, together with their statement of suitability.

The statement of suitability should give evidence of the strength and depth of your ability to meet the essential criteria for this role. Please provide specific examples to demonstrate how you meet each of the criteria (max two pages please).

Your CV and statement should be returned to the following address by the closing date: 12.00 (midday) on 20 February 2023. Email to quoting reference APPT04_22.

For further information please email:

1_National Park Authorities and AONB Member - Candidate pack_
2_Monitoring form 1 (Conflicts of interest conduct and advertising Questionnaire)
3_Monitoring form 2 (Diversity Questionnaire)
4_Public Appointments Guidance Notes
5_PAT Privacy Notice
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