The northern Howgill Fells, one of the areas being considered for inclusion in an extended Yorkshire Dales park

The northern Howgill Fells, one of the areas being considered for inclusion in an extended Yorkshire Dales park

Campaigners say they are frustrated by Government delays on a proposed extension of two national parks in the North of England.

They revealed that it is two years to the day since an inspector delivered his report on the matter to the then Environment Secretary Owen Paterson.

The Campaign for National Parks urged the Conservative Government to press ahead with the enlargement of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks, a process begun under the previous coalition Government.

Fiona Howie, Campaign for National Parks chief executive, said she was extremely frustrated by the ongoing delay, which made little sense as national parks contributed massively to the quality of live and economic prosperity of the region.

“Landscapes and cultural heritage are among the greatest assets of both Yorkshire and Cumbria, bringing millions of visitors to Britain,” she said.

“There is considerable public support for the extensions and the evidence was clear that the areas being considered should become part of the national parks. The Government must take positive action and confirm that these beautiful and important areas are designated.”

A number of outdoor bodies, along with the respective national park authorities, want to see the Yorkshire Dales extended westwards and the Lake District eastwards so they almost converge in the Lune Gorge, separated by the M6 motorway and the West Coast Main Line.

Fiona Howie: evidence was clear

Fiona Howie: evidence was clear

Details received through a recent freedom of information request show that the planning inspector submitted his report to the Environment Secretary on 15 October 2013 following the June public inquiry.

Parliamentary questions also revealed that the estimated costs to Natural England, the Government’s advisory body on the outdoors, since 2009 were almost £500,000. This includes the costs of extensive technical assessments of the areas concerned and the production of detailed reports, public and statutory consultations, printing costs and costs to Natural England of the public inquiry.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has also incurred costs to date of £122,360 which includes Planning Inspectorate costs, the cost of an inquiry manager, notice of the inquiry and the costs of venues for the inquiry.

No staff costs for either Natural England or Defra have been taken into account.

Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “At a time when the Chancellor is blaming slow planning for holding back infrastructure, it beggars belief that the Government has spent two years not coming to a decision on the Lakes-Dales National Park extension. What on earth is causing this hold up?

“The Government has great plans for ensuring that our generation leave the natural environment in a better state than we found it. What better way to start by uniting these iconic landscapes? Now.”

Douglas Chalmers, director of the Friends of the Lake District, said: “The Government has been delivering its election promises on the economy – so why won’t they deliver on the environment?

“The Conservative manifesto said they would ‘put in place stronger protections for our natural landscapes so that this remains the most beautiful country in the world’. What stronger protection could they put in place than confirming the extensions of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks?

“It is very frustrating that we are now two years past the public inquiry that was to decide whether or not to extend the parks’ boundaries. Friends of the Lake District played a major role in that inquiry and it is hard to believe that we still await a decision after such a significant amount of time and effort was invested by ourselves, other organisations, individuals and even by Government itself.”

Borrowdale, east of the A6, is also under consideration for inclusion in the Lake District national park

Borrowdale, east of the A6, is also under consideration for inclusion in the Lake District national park

Areas under consideration for inclusion into the Yorkshire Dales national park are: Middleton, Barbon, Casterton and Leck Fells, part of Firbank Fell, part of the Lune Valley and fells around Kirkby Lonsdale, along with Firbank Fell west of Sedbergh, the northern Howgill Fells, Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang and part of the Orton Fells.

The proposed Lake District national park would include: Birkbeck Fells Common, Bretherdale, the eastern Borrowdale, Whinfell, Grayrigg and Dillicare Commons and adjacent land in the area between the A6 and M6, and Hesington Barrows to Sizergh Fell and part of the Lyth Valley, between Brigsteer and Levens villages south east of Kendal.

Mark Corner, Yorkshire Dales Society chairman, added: “The absence of an explanation as to why this decision has not been taken is unacceptable and, frankly, pathetic.

“Clarity and honesty from government on the matter would show some respect to the vast majority of people who want the extension to happen so that this majestic part of our country can benefit from the protection and enhancement that national park designation would give it.”

The campaigners request for information revealed that neither Owen Paterson nor current Defra Secretary Liz Truss have held meetings with any external organisation to discuss the proposed extensions since the end of the public inquiry.

A Defra spokesperson said: “The Secretary of State is considering the inspector’s report carefully and will make a decision in due course.

“The report will be published at the same time as this decision.”

Some articles the site thinks might be related:

  1. Campaigners condemn ‘atrocious’ delay in Lakes and Dales park enlargement
  2. Government confirms Lakes and Dales national parks will be extended
  3. Lake District and Yorkshire Dales expansion inquiry opens tomorrow
  4. Ramblers welcome decision not to merge two outdoors bodies
  5. Campaigners urge outdoor fans to sign petition to help stop national park sell-offs