The Howgill fells with Ingleborough and the fells of the Yorkshire Dales in the distance

The Howgill fells with Ingleborough and the fells of the Yorkshire Dales in the distance

A public consultation on the enlargement of two of England’s national parks will begin next month.

The announcement was made by David Vose of Natural England at a gathering of representatives from parks across the country in Cumbria at the weekend. The Yorkshire Dales and Lake District parks are likely to extend to meet at or around the M6 motorway.

Mr Vose, a land-use specialist with the Government’s advisory body on the natural environment, told the National Park Societies’ conference that the Natural England board had approved the process for the 12-week consultation.

Fifty delegates representing authorities from Dartmoor to the Broads were at the conference, held at Castle Head Field Centre, near Grange over Sands.

The extension of the Lake District national park eastwards and the Yorkshire Dales westwards has been on the cards for some time but was held up by various legal arguments at the heart of the setting up of the new South Downs national park.

The enlargement has the support of the Dales authority. grough spoke to Carl Lis, chair of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority before the Natural England announcement.

Mr Lis said: “Enlargement of the Yorkshire Dales national park is now very seriously back on the agenda. There have been a number of issues, mainly to do with windfarms and the like, and also the establishment of the South Downs.

“As far as the Yorkshire Dales is concerned, the major extension would be in Cumbria – the extension in the Howgills. It’s hard to differentiate why that should not be in the national park because it’s beautiful country. There are a few extensions round about Kirkby Lonsdale and Mallerstang, but it is now back on the agenda.

“A lot of local people are waiting to be consulted. I think there’s a bit of a suspicion still. Some people say it would nice to be part of the national park; other people are not quite as keen.

“As an authority we are very much in favour of expansion. Certainly in the Howgills we can’t see why not. The people in the Lake District will have the same on their extension eastwards. I hope it happens, but I hope they handle it properly and that people are fully kept in the picture and are allowed to make their comments. Certainly, we don’t want to give the impression of being heavy handed.”

The recent floods were also uppermost in the minds of delegates and Jim McQueen, Friends of the Lake District trustee and conference organiser said: “The Lake District landscape has taken a real battering from the heavy rains so we were very fortunate to go ahead. We were pleased to be able to show off our partnership working with public bodies like the Forestry Commission, Natural England and the national park authority.”

Delegates went on a Windermere field visit, to look at the impacts of land uses surrounding the lake and on its water quality.

Delegates on the Hampsfell field trip

Delegates on the Hampsfell field trip

Another site visit included a trip to Hampsfell to see the area where a Friends of the Lake District environmental grant has enabled the Forestry Commission to remove a large area of non-native conifers just north of Grange over Sands.

Ruth Chambers from the Campaign for National Parks said: “We congratulate Friends of the Lake District for hosting this annual gathering of all local park societies. As well as exploring the history and evolution of the national parks, we looked ahead to the next sixty years.

“While there are many uncertainties for the future, one thing is clear: national parks need passionate people to campaign on their behalf as much as ever.”

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