The Government’s advisory body on the outdoors has published updated plans for the enlargement of two national parks.
Natural England proposes to add the northern part of the Howgill Fells, Mallerstang, the Orton Fells and the area to the West of the existing boundary, taking in Ireby Fell, Firbank Fell and the River Lune.
Middleton Fell and Barbon Fell would be included, but a small area just north of Kirkby Lonsdale has been taken out of the proposed additions to the national park.
The Lake District would be extended to take in Birkbeck Fells Common and Whinfell Common to the East of the existing boundary, leaving the M6 motorway squeezed into a narrow corridor between the two enlarged parks south of Tebay.
The area between Helsington Barrows and Sizergh Fell including the Lyth Valley to the south would also form part of the extensions to the Lake District.
A second stage of consultation opened today and Natural England will consider any further representations. The previous one ran from December 2009 to May 2010 when local authorities, parish councils, interested groups and members of the public were asked for their views on the suitability of areas for consideration as National Park. As a result of this first stage of consultation, Natural England’s proposals were refined to include seven additional areas of land, with one deletion.
More than three-quarters of respondents in the first consultation were in favour of the enlargement, but parish and district councils were lukewarm.
David Vose, Natural England’s project manager said: “We were very pleased with the 1,365 responses we received to last year’s consultation. We considered all the comments and made some amendments to our proposals to protect, as national park, some of northern England’s finest landscapes.
“We would now like to hear from anyone who has a view about further revisions to the proposed boundaries.”
More details, along with a map of the proposed additions, can be seen on Natural England’s website. Submissions to the consultation can also be made through the website.
Closing date for responses is 1 July. From May, Natural England will run drop-in sessions in villages in or near the proposed extension areas. Visitors will be able to view the maps, supporting documents and discuss the proposals with Natural England staff.
Natural England will consider all responses and draw up recommendations. Its board is expected to consider the final proposals in September 2011 and the decision about any extension to either national park will then be submitted to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for confirmation.