At the crossroads? The Yorkshire Dales is selling off properties

At the crossroads? The Yorkshire Dales is selling off properties

Campaigners have called for an end to cuts in national park budgets as the UK general election approaches.

The Campaign for National Parks said the areas were at the crossroads and called for top-level talks to protect the country’s treasured scenic areas and secure their future.

The charity said it would like to see a commitment not to cut funding allocated to national park authorities over the next parliament. It called on representatives of national park authorities, government, the charitable sector and business to explore how national parks are protected and funded in future.

It pointed out that more than 160,000 people have signed a petition by pressure group 38 Degrees calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to stop the cuts.

National Park Authorities, which receive most of their cash from government, have suffered up to 40 per cuts in their budgets in the last five years. This has so far led to 252 job losses in national parks in England and Wales.

Authorities have also been forced to put prime landscapes up for sale, cut back on the maintenance of rights of way, reduce funding for conservation projects, cut grant support for apprenticeships, stop school visits programmes and close visitor centres, catering for the 90 million visitors each year to the national parks.

Julian Woolford, Campaign for National Parks chief executive, said he was frustrated at the piecemeal approach to the cuts and the lack of innovative thinking to ensure their future.

“The current approach to cuts is piecemeal, short-termist and relentless,” he said.

“We have to stop the cuts and get the best brains in government, the national park authorities, the charitable sector and business to develop an exciting, properly funded vision for the future of national parks as soon as possible.”

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

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

Mr Woolford added that each of the national park authorities had a budget smaller than that of a comprehensive school, showing they represent incredibly good value for the benefits they deliver.

The CNP said national park authorities have made a number of changes to mitigate the cuts including the launch of philanthropic charitable organisations; the setting up of National Park Enterprises – a company limited by guarantee; specific sponsorship deals, such as a fragrance deal with US firm Airwick; the leasing of treasured national assets and a drive to get more Heritage Lottery Funding for major projects.

Both the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District authorities are selling properties, including Stickle Tarn in the shadow of Pavey Ark in Great Langdale.

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