THE NEW chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has moved to allay fears as the national park’s historic expansion into Lancashire and Cumbria draws closer.
There is just over a month to go before the national park is increased by a nearly a quarter to take in parts of neighbouring counties.
The boundary extension, announced last October by Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss, means the area covered will increase by 24 per cent from 680 sq miles to 841 sq miles. It will come into affect on Yorkshire Day – August 1.
Park authority chairman Carl Lis said: “Some people may be a bit apprehensive about living in a national park – often because of inaccurate information they have received – and we hope to allay their fears.
“We are all very excited about the extension but also aware of the responsibilities it brings, responsibilities to these wonderful landscapes and to the local communities that do so much to make them special places.”
The new boundary for the Yorkshire Dales National Park will include the Orton Fells, the northern Howgill Fells, Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang to the north and, to the west, Barbon, Middleton, Casterton and Leck Fell, the River Lune, and part of Firbank Fell and other fells to the west of the River Lune.
Currently, 12 per cent of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is in Cumbria. That figure will increase to 27 per cent on August 1 and, for the first time, one per cent will be in Lancashire too.
The National Park population is around 20,000 and this will rise to around 24,000 on this date.
Mr Lis, who was elected to the role today, said: “Being in a national park has many benefits, not least to the conservation of the landscape and the boost to the local economies that national park status can bring with it.
“We have already held drop-in sessions for members of the public and meetings with parish council representatives, landowners, farmers and local businesses to explain what we do and how we might be able to help each other.
“There is still a huge amount to do on our part but we are really looking forward to working with everyone to make the change as seamless as possible.”
Coun Lis, who represents the Ingleborough ward of Craven District Council, has been deputy chairman for the past 12 months and has been an authority member for 20 years.
He has headed the authority twice before and takes over from former barrister and circuit judge Peter Charlesworth, who is leaving as a member after completing his term of office.
Members of the Kirkby Stephen and the Upper Eden community are putting the final touches to a big ‘Westmorland Dales Day’ event centred on the town on July 31 to celebrate the extension.
As well as a number of organised walks, there will be a chance for runners and cyclists to explore some of the new National Park area and there will be more activities in the town. There will even be free trips on a Cumbria Classic Bus around the area for those unable to participate in sporting activities.
Ann Sandell, Chair of the Kirkby Stephen and District Walkers are Welcome, said: “We are delighted that these parts of our beautiful area have been recognised and we look forward to welcoming everyone on Westmorland Dales Day or at any time.”
The Lake District National Park will be extended on the same day to take in an area from Birkbeck Fells Common to Whinfell Common to the east and an area from Helsington Barrows to Sizergh Fell, an area north of Sizergh Castle and part of the Lyth valley to the south.