THE YORKSHIRE Dales National Park has been extended into parts of Lancashire and Cumbria today in a move aimed at protecting the countryside and boosting rural tourism.
The expansion will see it take on a extra 161 square miles of upland landscape and move it within touching distance of the Lake District National Park which is also expanding.
To the north, the Dales will now include the limestone-terraced plateau of Great Asby Scar and the northern Howgill Fells, the distinctive Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang, and the settlements that surround them. To the west, the National Park covers the fells of Casterton, Middleton, Barbon and Leck, from today.
Chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Carl Lis said: “I’m eternally grateful for the extraordinary work so many people have put in to make today a reality.
“The Government decision to extend the boundary is an illustration of how important National Parks are to the people and to the fabric of this country.
“For the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, the hard work starts now. But through our passion for this special place, working alongside local people and businesses, we will ensure it remains a thriving area: its unique cultural landscape will be treasured for its stunning scenery, exceptional heritage and wonderful wildlife, and every year millions of people will be inspired to be a part of it.”
The combined expansion of the two National Parks will include nearly 200 square miles – an area bigger than the Isle of Wight. The move was confirmed today by the Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom. She said: “The Dales and Lake District are part of our nation’s proud identity – immortalised by W H Auden and Wordsworth, they are home to some of our country’s most beautiful and rugged landscapes. Today’s extension will virtually join up these precious natural assets, supporting the local economy, creating jobs and securing the area’s reputation as one of our country’s most attractive tourist destinations for generations to come.”
All planning applications submitted before today in the new area now covered by The Yorkshire Dales have been dealt with by one of the three current planning authorities responsible for the area - either Eden District, South Lakeland District or Lancaster City Council - using their existing policies. However any applications not determined by today will be transferred to the National Park Authority to deal with, “in accordance with these existing local planning policies.”
National Parks contribute £4bn to the UK economy each year and are also home to more than one third of England’s protected food names including Wensleydale cheese.
With tourism responsible for 13 per cent of rural employment and 10 per cent of rural businesses, the Government said that today’s extension could create hundreds more jobs.
Andrew Sells, chairman of Natural England said: “This is a momentous day for the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District National Parks, as well as for the wider family of protected landscapes.”