Borrowdale, east of the A6, would be likely to be included in an expanded Lake District

Borrowdale, east of the A6, would be likely to be included in an expanded Lake District

Campaigners have described as ‘atrocious’ the delay in extending two national parks 18 months after a public inquiry made its recommendations.

The Campaign for National Parks pointed out that 93 per cent of view were in favour of enlarging the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales parks, but there was still no announcement on the plans.

The charity’s chief executive Julian Woolford said the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had been particularly reticent about making any decision.

He said: “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.

“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.”

Mr Woolford welcomed Defra’s commitment in celebrating the 10th anniversary of the creation of the New Forest national park, but was scathing of the continuing cuts imposed by the Westminster Government on England’s parks.

Campaigners say the proposals are sitting on Liz Truss's desk. Photo: Policy Exchange CC-BY-2.0

Campaigners say the proposals are sitting on Liz Truss's desk. Photo: Policy Exchange [CC-2.0]

He said the New Forest national park has been working with Verderers and the Forestry Commission to deliver the largest agri-environment scheme in England, amounting to £19m over ten years. It has funded 132 projects since 2006, benefitting 58,000 people through its Sustainable Communities Fund and discovered 3,500 archaeological sites thanks to its high-tech Lidar mapping technology project.

“Its majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for recreation, enjoyment and discovery,” he said.

But the Campaign for National Parks said the 10th anniversary celebrations come at a time when national parks are 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.

National park budgets have fallen from £47.8m in 2009-10 for nine national parks in England – the newest, the South Downs, had not been created in 2009 – to £35.5m in the current financial year, and parks face a further cut in 2015-6.

Mr Woolford said: “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 grandchildren.

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