Pressure group the Campaign for National Parks yesterday condemned Government inaction on the long-awaited extensions to the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District National Parks. The move would bring the whole of the Howgills, among other areas, within the protective boundaries of a National Park for the first time. But its implementation seems to have become bogged down.
As long ago as Autumn 2013 a public enquiry into the proposed park additions reported 93% support for the plan among respondents. But little progress has been made since.
Julian Woolford, Chief Executive of the campaign group, strongly criticised the delay:
'It is atrocious that Defra continues to say that the Inquiry report is still sitting on the desk of the Secretary of State Liz Truss nearly 18 months after it was delivered' he said.
'The final consultation showed that 93 per cent of respondents supported the extension and we believe that it is now critical that the Secretary of State takes a positive step for the environment and extends both National Parks.'
'This will provide the environmental protection that these areas need, ensuring they are protected now and for the future.'
Any changes to the National Park boundaries can only take effect once they have received confirmation from the Secretary of State. But Truss doesn't appear to be in any hurry.
In the Yorkshire Dales National Park the recommended changes relate to an area of approximately 418 square kilometres in Cumbria and Lancashire, in and around:
The northern Howgill Fells, Wild Boar Fell, Mallerstang and part of the Orton Fells (all in Eden District)
Middleton, Barbon, Casterton and Leck Fells, part of Firbank Fell, part of the Lune Valley and fells to the west (in the Districts of South Lakeland and Lancaster City)
In the Lake District National Park the recommended changes relate to approximately 70 square kilometres of Cumbria, in and around:
Birkbeck Fells Common, Bretherdale, Borrowdale, Whinfell, Grayrigg and Dillicar Commons and adjacent land (in Eden District and South Lakeland District)
Helsington Barrows to Sizergh Fell and part of the Lyth Valley and land to the North of Sizergh (in South Lakeland District)
To mark the tenth anniversary of the New Forest National Park, Woolford yesterday also condemned the ongoing heavy budget cuts that are, he said, underminiung the work of all Britain's National Park authorities.
National Parks are currently facing some of the most significant cutbacks in their history, resulting in job losses, cuts in ranger, volunteer, engagement, education services and rights of way work.
Budgets have fallen from £47.8m in 2009/10 for nine National Parks in England to £35.5m in the current financial year. Under the present Government they face a further cut in 2015/6.
'If these cuts continue unchecked, National Parks will be little more than planning authorities, and Authorities will not have the resources to protect our most iconic landscapes for our children and grand-children' Woolford warned.
- If you fancy exploring some of the key areas tabled for inclusion in an extended Yorkshire Dales National Park, check out this UKH Route Card on the Orton Fells, Howgills and Wild Boar Fell