Stickle Tarn, one of areas put on the market by the Lakes authority

Stickle Tarn, one of areas put on the market by the Lakes authority

Online campaign group 38 Degrees is urging outdoor enthusiasts to sign a petition opposing the sell-off of land in national parks.

The petition, which has so far attracted almost 90,000 signatures, calls on the Prime Minister to stop cuts to national parks.

England’s national parks have faced cuts of 30 per cent since the coalition Government came to power, and 38 Degrees said a public outcry could stop any further cuts.

It said: “Our beautiful countryside is under threat. Government cuts are forcing huge land sell-offs in the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales.

“People-powered campaigning created our national parks over 50 years ago. And it can save them now. A huge public backlash could stop further cuts and force the Government to protect our national parks.

“National parks are looked after by national park authorities, who are funded by central government. They’re supposed to act as custodians of these precious places, for people, wildlife and future generations. But after rounds of cuts NPAs are slashing jobs, and looking for other ways to balance the books.

“In the Lake District seven iconic beauty spots are already up for sale. Stickle Tarn, described as ‘iconic, simply majestic’ – £20,000. Baneriggs Wood, an ‘exceptional mature deciduous woodland’ complete with red squirrels and rare birds – £110,000. In the Yorkshire Dales eight properties are now earmarked for ‘disposal’.

“David Cameron and his government hold the purse strings. It’s their decisions that are forcing our national treasures onto the market.”

Grough reported earlier this month on the seven properties being sold for a total of £½m, including Stickle Tarn in the shadow of Pavey Ark and Jack’s Rake.

Mark Hoggar, head of resources for the Lake District national park, said: “The properties advertised for sale are part of the Lake District national park’s ongoing sales and acquisitions review to make sure our properties are managed effectively within the current financial climate.

“In line with this, and following consultation, we have agreed that the properties advertised are no longer required for our property needs and are suitable for sale by formal tender.

“We have put measures in place to ensure the responsible disposal of these properties, all of which are subject to the planning framework of the Lake District National Park.

“We have safeguarded and strengthened public access where it already exists and included other special conditions to protect the special qualities.

“The proceeds of any property sales will be reinvested into improving or maintaining other national park properties we own. This work is in support of the agreed vision and plan set out with our partners to jointly manage the national park.

“Lake District national park currently owns or manages nearly 9,000ha [22,240 acres] of land within the national park, comprising about four per cent of the total land area.”

The Yorkshire Dales authority confirmed it was also selling properties

The Yorkshire Dales authority confirmed it was also selling properties

The Yorkshire Dales authority confirmed it too is planning to sell off some of its assets. Gary Smith, director of conservation and community, said: “It is true that the national park authority is looking to dispose of a few small parcels of land over the next three years.

“This is just one small part of a much wider programme of measures we are taking to reduce costs and generate new income streams in order to minimise the impact of the cuts on the national park.”

Urging the public to support its campaign, 38 Degrees said: “Back in 2011, the Government tried to privatise another set of beauty spots: the public woodlands owned by the Forestry Commission. 38 Degrees members helped block those sales.

“We know the true value of preserving England’s wild spaces, and why it matters to keep them in public hands. So let’s come together again to save our national parks.”

The online petition can be seen on the 38 Degrees website.

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