§ Mr. Peter Atkinson
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what role national park authorities in England will have in delivery of the rural development plan; and what additional resources will be made available by her Department for the authorities concerned. 
§ Alun Michael
National park authorities make a significant contribution to the operation of the National Rural Development Programme (ERDP), not least through participation in the national and regional consultation groups which advise on the strategic direction of the programme. National park authorities are also encouraged to work with DEFRA's Rural Development Service to ensure that effective delivery of the ERDP contributes to the aims and objectives of national parks. The national park authorities also play a positive role in encouraging uptake of the agri-environment schemes which now form part of the ERDP. In particular they can use their detailed knowledge of the parks to ensure that the Countryside Stewardship Scheme is utilised positively and appropriately within the individual parks.