At Goodwood House last Friday, farmers and landowners learnt what the consequences of the new South Downs National Park might be. It is officially designated at the end of next month, and the members of the board will be revealed over the next few weeks.

The Earl of March hoped that it would not set the area in aspic. With a Rolls Royce factory recently built less than a mile from his house and his festival of speed for cars continuing the tradition of sport started by his fox-hunting ancestor at the end of the 17th century, he is conscious of the need for evolution.

There will be 120,000 people living within the new boundary. Compare that with the mere 2,000 who live in the Northumberland National Park, and it is obvious this will be a different kind of beast. Some 85% is farmed conventionally. Indeed, the new chief executive acknowledged that those who created the beautiful landscape are the people who manage the land.

Shadow Defra Minister Nick Herbert pointed out anomalies such as the fact that, although he is MP for Arundel and the South Downs, his house is outside the boundary, yet, across town, the Duke of Norfolk in Arundel Castle just creeps in. Watch out, your grace, he may be Secretary of State in less than 100 days.

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