External funds boost sees North York Moors bounce back from austerity cuts

The North York Moors National Park Authority stands to beat its target for attracting external funding by up to 86 percent over the next two years.
The North York Moors National Park Authority stands to beat its target for attracting external funding by up to 86 percent over the next two years.
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More projects are underway to open up the landscape and connect people with the heritage of the North York Moors than ever before, as the national park authority enjoys a boom in external funding.

Papers prepared for a meeting of authority members next week explain that the Moors authority can expect to attract more than the £1.5m per annum that it originally aimed to do as part of its management plan over the next two years.

We are putting the Moors on the map more than we were ten years ago.

Andy Wilson, chief executive of the North York Moors National Park Authority.

The park authority had its government funding cut from £4.2m to £5.4m between 2010 and 2015, and has since increasingly sought other sources of funding to protect its conservation work in the park, so much so that its current £9m budget is its highest ever.

Read more: Taken on trust as park targets new financing

According to the papers drafted for Monday’s meeting of members, the authority has the potential to grow its budget to over £11m in future years and attract external funding that exceeds an original target by 86 percent between 2018 and 2020.

A recent raft of successful funding bids, coupled with the launch of a charitable trust means the park authority is now running 11 separate projects.

Andy Wilson, chief executive of the North York Moors National Park Authority, said the recent success could be put down to the compelling narrative the Moors offers to prospective funders.

Read more: North York Moors records tourism recovery despite years of cuts

“It’s a great place to talk about. The Yorkshire coast is second to none in the country and we have the moors and woodlands, as well as this great legacy of human occupation,” Mr Wilson said.

“We are putting the North York Moors on the map more than we were ten years ago which is good for the economy and good for Yorkshire as well.”

Recent funding successes include backing from the Heritage Lottery Fund and others to led a £3.8m ‘This Exploited Land of Iron’ project over five years to conserve and promote the industrial heritage of ironstone and railways across Rosedale and the Esk Valley, and separate funds to work towards reversing the decline in numbers of turtle doves.

Other projects include the Cleveland Way Adoption Scheme to make families custodians of stretches of the trail and a First World War scheme in Goathland to connect schoolchildren with the past by creating a living memorial of trees. The park authority is also lead partner of the North York Moors, Coast and Hills LEADER programme which is distributing over £1.7m of European funds to help businesses and communities deliver projects that benefit the economy.

Mr Wilson said: “We have had a run of success in terms of bringing external funding to the national park. What we need to do now is set ourselves up to make sure we can deliver everything.”

The park meeting papers state that the park authority’s finances have been added to “considerably” by a Section 106 agreement with York Potash Ltd, but these funds are ring fenced to mitigate the impact of the company’s Woodsmith mine near Whitby.

A 20 percent rise in planning fees was introduced in January that is also expected to boost income, while the authority launched the North York Moors National Park Trust in November to attract donations and bequests from individuals and corporate sponsors.

Park bosses must set a budget for the year ahead by the end of March and this will be discussed further by authority members at their meeting on Monday.