Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Lakes and Dales 500sq mile Expansion

Visitors to two of England’s finest national parks are a step closer to having more to explore after recommendations to extend the boundaries of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales - which will increase their combined area by nearly 500sq kms - have been passed to Government for approval.

If the Secretary of State confirms the changes being recommended by Natural England it will represent the most significant addition to England’s National Parks since the confirmation of the South Downs in 2009.

After years of face-to-face and online consultations communities either side of the M6 artery that have until now sat outside both boundaries are a step closer to joining their near neighbours after over two thirds of those surveyed said were in favour of extending the National Parks.

The proposed variation to the Yorkshire Dales National Park will include:

to the north, parts of the Orton Fells, the northern Howgill Fells, Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang; and
to the west, Barbon, Middleton, Casterton and Leck Fells, the River Lune and, part of Firbank Fell and other fells to the west of the river.

The proposed variation to the Lake District National Park will include:

to the east, an area from Birkbeck Fells Common to Whinfell Common; and
to the south an area from Helsington Barrows to Sizergh Fell, and part of the Lyth Valley.

David Butterworth, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority chief executive, added: “The farmers and landowners who, for generations, have lived and worked in these places have helped create the great natural beauty and many special qualities that visitors enjoy today – and that make the areas worthy of National Park status. 

“We believe these areas have many unifying features and characteristics such as the Settle Carlisle line, limestone pavements and hay meadows, as well as similar community issues such as affordable housing, access to services and sustainable communities – issues that resonate with the existing National Park.   

“As part of this process, Natural England has undertaken extensive consultation and we are delighted that it shows that the majority of residents who responded are enthusiastic about the proposals and recognise the many and varied benefits that designation will bring.

“It’s a real victory for common sense in looking at National Park boundaries in terms of the quality of the landscape rather than outmoded and short-term administrative or political issues.”

Poul Christensen, Chair of Natural England said: “The Board’s decision to proceed towards the designation of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks is the result of many years of detailed assessment work and public consultation. It represents an important opportunity to ensure that these special landscapes are looked after for future generations to enjoy.

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