Lake District - Yorkshire Dales National Parks Extensions: Two year wait for an announcement and the delay continues

Campaigners battling to secure extensions to the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks have now been waiting for two years for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to make a decision on the Planning Inspector’s report.
Details received through a recent Freedom of Information request show that the Planning Inspector submitted his report to the then Environment Secretary Owen Paterson on 15 October 2013 following the June Public Inquiry
Parliamentary questions have also revealed that the estimated costs to Natural England 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.
Defra 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.
The second year anniversary comes as National Park Authorities meet for their biennual conference in Dartmoor National Park (14-16 October) to discuss key issues such as the future of National Parks, forging closer links with business and the potential role of Parks in relation to rewildling.
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.
“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.”
Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), 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 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.”
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 Lakes to Dales campaign aims to secure extensions to the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks providing enhanced protected to some of the most beautiful and important landscapes in England. The areas under consideration for inclusion into the Yorkshire Dales National Park area:
• Middleton, Barbon, Casterton and Leck Fells, part of the Firbank Fell, part of the Lune Valley and fells to the west (east and north) of Kirkby Lonsdale
• Firbank Fell (west of Sedbergh)
• Northern Howgill Fells, Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang (south of Kirby Stephen) and
• Part of the Orton Fells (north east of Tebay).

The areas under consideration for inclusion into the Lake District National Park are:
• Birkbeck Fells Common, Bretherdale, Borrowdale, Whinfell, Grayrigg and Dillicare Commons and adjacent land (area between the A6 and M6), and
• Hesington Barrows to Sizergh Fell and part of the Lyth Valley (areas between Brigsteer and Levens villages south east of Kendal).

Notes to Editors
Defra’s response to our Freedom of Information request can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/proposed-extension-to-nationa...

Information on our Lakes to Dales National Park extension campaign can be found at www.cnp.org.uk/lakes-2-dales-campaign

Further information can be obtained from CNP’s Communications Manager Tony McDougal (Tel: 07766133788) or email tonym@cnp.org.uk