Borrowdale will be included in the eastern extension of the Lake District

Borrowdale will be included in the eastern extension of the Lake District

The Government has announced that two national parks in northern England will be extended.

The long-awaited decision to extend the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District parks was confirmed by Environment Secretary Liz Truss today.

The announcement, during a visit to a Yorkshire Dales dairy, follows two years of delay. Only last week, campaigners expressed frustration at the ‘pathetic’ delay in implementing the plans, which had been delivered to the previous secretary of state Owen Paterson.

Fiona Howie, Campaign for National Parks chief executive, said: “This is absolutely fantastic news.

“Very simply, these are beautiful, inspiring and important areas of the countryside that always deserved to be part of our national parks.

“They were originally excluded because of administrative reasons but now, after years of hard work by a lot of people, this is now going to be put right.”

She said that the two extension areas proposed for the Lake District national park had been accepted in their entirely, while ‘with two minor exceptions’ the proposed two extension areas for the Yorkshire Dales national park had also been accepted.

The Yorkshire Dales protected area will grow in size by almost a quarter, while an extra three per cent will be added to the area covered by the Lake District park.

Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang will be included in the enlarged Yorkshire Dales

Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang will be included in the enlarged Yorkshire Dales

Parts of the Orton Fells, the northern Howgill Fells, Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang will be added to the Yorkshire Dales national park, along with Barbon, Middleton, Casterton and Leck Fells, the River Lune, and part of Firbank Fell and other fells to the west of the River Lune.

The Lake District will include an area from Birkbeck Fells Common to Whinfell Common and, in the South, an area from Helsington Barrows to Sizergh Fell, an area north of Sizergh Castle and part of the Lyth valley.

Lake District National Park Authority chief executive Richard Leafe confirmed the secretary of state had accepted the inspector’s recommendations for the Lake District in their entirety.

He said: “It’s great news. We now have a sensible boundary that follows the landscape. It means we can bring in our management of the countryside and footpaths to those areas.

Richard Leafe: 'great news'

Richard Leafe: 'great news'

“Our members have been clear that we would only want to take on a bigger park if we had reasonable resources and the secretary of state has recognised that in her letter to us today.

“I think it is great that the two parks will now cover this great land mass across the North of England and we will see the benefits this high-value land can bring to the economy.”

Just a narrow corridor of land along the Lune Gorge, carrying the M6 motorway and the West Coast Main Line, will separate the two parks when the plans are implemented next August.

Ms Truss said: “The Dales and the Lakes have some of our country’s finest landscapes, beautiful vistas and exciting wildlife. They are part of our national identity.

“I am delighted to be able to announce this extension which will join these two unique national parks and protect even more space for generations to come.

“National parks are fabulous national assets that welcome over 90 million tourists and contribute to our vibrant rural economy; we are committed to helping them thrive.”

Liz Truss: 'parks are national assets'. Photo: Policy Exchange CC-BY-2.0

Liz Truss: 'parks are national assets'. Photo: Policy Exchange [CC-2.0]

Andrew Sells, chairman of the Government’s advisory body on the outdoors Natural England, said: “I very much welcome the Secretary of State’s decision to extend the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District national parks in line with the recommendations made by Natural England.

“The Chancellor’s Northern Powerhouse depends upon the ‘natural capital’ provided by our iconic national parks. They represent some of England’s most treasured natural assets.

“With international appeal, their stunning landscapes stand out as a beacon to the people who come to enjoy them whilst their intrinsic value drives the communities, businesses and biodiversity they support. Extending these today confirms their great importance and provides them with the recognition they richly deserve.”

Campaigning charity the Friends of the Lake District said they were delighted with Ms Truss’s announcement and that the wait for the decision is over.

A spokesperson said: “Friends of the Lake District played a major role in the run up to the inquiry, and co-ordinated the key supporters group’s evidence to the public inquiry in 2013.

“This group represented a wide range of the interests of those who lived and worked in the proposed areas, including parish and town councils, local businesses, farmers and landowners, conservation and recreational organisations and individuals.”

Friends of the Lake District director Douglas Chalmers

Friends of the Lake District director Douglas Chalmers

The organisation said a recent widespread media debate at national level was initiated by Friends of the Lake District’s letter to the Times, written together with the Campaign for National Parks, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and the Yorkshire Dales Society.

The group’s president Martin Holdgate said: “Of course we are delighted that the secretary of state has finally confirmed the designation orders for the extensions to the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks.

“These are, and always have been, areas of superb scenery that deserved national park status years ago. Friends of the Lake District has worked for years to achieve this outcome, and we are pleased that our efforts have borne fruit but now everyone must work together to ensure we reap the benefits.”

Douglas Chalmers, director of Friends of the Lake District, added: “This really is a momentous decision, and one that reflects the wishes of many people. And now the real work starts. Everyone has been saying that designating this land will bring additional economic, environmental and community benefits to the area, and we now have to make sure that this happens.

“In the secretary of state’s announcement, Mrs Truss said: ‘National parks are fabulous national assets that welcome over 90 million tourists and contribute to our vibrant rural economy; we are committed to helping them thrive’. It is reassuring to have such a positive statement on government’s support for national parks going into the future.

“Let’s savour this moment, but then start working to ensure that those in the areas start to see the benefits.”

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority chairman Peter Charlesworth said: “We are thrilled and delighted these stunning landscapes have been recognised as worthy of national park status.

“The decision is particularly welcome after the tremendous work of so many people from these communities who fought so hard for national park status. It is marvellous that, even at a time of financial austerity, government has recognised the equality of these landscapes and designated as national park.”

The authority chief executive David Butterworth said: “Now the hard work starts. We will be listening to and learning from the local communities, farmers, landowners and businesses to enable us to develop productive, long-term relationships with all these parties.

“Working together with others, the national park authority is determined to play a leading part in making the most of the wonderful opportunities this decision offers for both the landscape and local economy.”

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