Arbory and Rushen Parish Commissioners have called for recognition of uplands and glens as protected national parks.

The call comes as the Isle of Man’s strategic plan is being reviewed.

At their September meeting the commissioners considered the ‘Preliminary Publicity’ stage of the review process into the Isle of Man Strategic Plan 2016 and noted the opportunity of replacing the document.

The commissioners agreed that there was opportunity to improve the way in which development in the countryside is controlled, noting in particular that rules relating to development of agricultural barns and farm workers’ cottages need greater clarity, guidance and consideration.

They also agreed that protection of areas of outstanding natural beauty through measures such as those available in UK national parks should be considered for inclusion in the new plan.

The commissioners questioned whether there is public support to grow the population by an extra 15,000 people and felt that there was a good case to give greater say for local communities over significant planning applications which will affect their area.

A spokesperson for the commissioners said: ‘In the UK, national parks are established to conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of an area, to promote sustainable use of the natural resources of the area, and to promote understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the area by the public. ‘

In particular the commissioners would like to see national parks identified as national assets to the economy and environment; a policy basis for considering and safeguarding the integrity of a national park designation and its special qualities and recognition that national parks are tourism assets.

The local authority would also like to see support for better physical connectivity through improved public transport and digital connectivity and specific reference to the opportunity for national parks to contribute to renewable energy targets.

Commissioners’ chairman Stan Pilling said: ‘The consultation on the Isle of Man Strategic Plan Review provides a great opportunity for national policy to promote the way in which our planning system can help protect our biodiverse, scenically rich landscapes.

‘Creating new National Park status for our cherished uplands and glens as national assets for the Isle of Man would, we believe, be popular with Manx residents and tourists alike.’

National park status could help Government deliver on tourism, affordable housing, appropriately scaled renewable energy and better connectivity, at the same time as safeguarding and enhancing the landscape and habitats people enjoy so much.

The commissioners are urging everyone to provide feedback to the consultation which is available through the Isle of Man Government consultation hub and the Cabinet Office planning team.’

The consultation closes to the public on September 29 however the commissioners have received a month’s extension by the Cabinet Office to submit their views.

The commissioners will be holding a public meeting in the next few weeks to gauge public opinion on the matter.