Should the Lake District be bigger?

A campaign group including Sir Christopher Bonington, the Friends of the Lake District and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England is calling for the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks to be extended. Read their case.

Public letter from the Lakes to Dales Campaign Key Supporters Group

The extensions to the eastern Lake District and western Yorkshire Dales are currently out for public consultation until 1 July 2011. If you believe these proposals will have positive benefits, as we do, it is important that you respond to this consultation.

In Cumbria, we are blessed with two fantastic National Parks. Unsurprisingly the public consultation results from last year show that the overwhelming majority of people support the proposed extensions to both of them.

The proposed extension areas are:

Lake District

  • Birkbeck Fells to Whinfell area between the A6 and M6, which includes Friends of the Lake District's land at High Borrowdale
  • Helsington Barrows to Sizergh Fell and Lyth Valley, between Brigsteer and Levens villages south east of Kendal

Yorkshire Dales

  • Middleton, Barbon and Leck Fells east and north of Kirkby Lonsdale
  • Firbank Fell west of Sedbergh
  • Northern Howgill Fells
  • Mallerstang and Wild Boar Fell south of Kirkby Stephen
  • Orton Fells

Even the minority with concerns about the inclusion of the extra areas recognise that their landscapes and recreational opportunities meet the criteria for National Park status.

The 'unfinished business', as it has been called, of getting National Park designation for these outstanding areas has been delayed for administrative, procedural and political reasons stretching back over 60 years. Natural England's detailed and up-to-date evaluation demonstrates that these extension areas should now come into the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks. It has already carried out an extensive public consultation exercise to test people's views on its initial draft recommendations. This attracted a high response of 1,365 individual replies. The proposed revised boundaries that are the subject of this second twelve-week public consultation take account of those responses as a whole and provide for an even better outcome.

As strong supporters of the revised boundary proposals we believe that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to strengthen our National Parks and maximise the benefits they bring to local people, businesses and the future well-being of our society. Cumbria's national image has been mostly doom and gloom over recent years with Foot and Mouth Disease, flooding and shootings hitting the media headlines. We urge everyone in Cumbria to use the National Park extension proposals to proclaim that we have a really special county; good for economic investment, for people's quality of life, for the visitor economy and for sustaining our natural heritage and communities long into the future.

These proposals avoid the need to create new organisations. Both the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Park Authorities have a good track record of working with their local communities across all areas of activity, from delivering affordable housing to supporting farmers and making sure the countryside is well signposted, so that visitors can enjoy and explore it responsibly and with confidence. We believe that the two National Park Authorities will act as strong champions for rural community needs within the county, helping to ensure that a fair share of economic investment and service provision comes to support these sparsely populated areas.

Finally, we fully understand concerns about a 'Yorkshire' identity potentially undermining the strong local affinity with 'Westmorland' that endures despite Cumbria's many years of existence. This should not undermine the overriding principle that the Westmorland Dales area defined in these proposed boundary extensions should become part of a National Park.

In our view extending the National Parks will give greater weight to the Westmorland identity because it will confer national recognition on these distinctive places. Both National Parks have different distinctive component areas which the local communities and National Park Authorities already reflect – Swaledale is not the same as Wharfedale or Wensleydale!

  • We therefore urge you to support the revised proposed boundary extensions to the two National Parks and to respond positively to Natural England's consultation
  • Please also write to or email your MP to let them know of your support. If you would like to register your contact name, email address and telephone number with our campaign group please email: Thank you.
  • To help everyone's understanding we have produced two briefing sheets. The first answering some of the issues raised during the first consultation and, a second, an economic benefits factual briefing to try to overcome some of the misconceptions about the impacts of the new National Park designation. These are on our website through the National Park extensions link:

Lakes to Dales Campaign Key Supporters Group

Members of the Key Supporter Group:

  • Kyle Blue
  • Sir Christopher Bonington CBE
  • British Mountaineering Council
  • Ian Brodie
  • Campaign for National Parks, contact Ruth Chambers
  • Campaign for the Protection of Rural England
  • Lord Clark of Windermere
  • John Dunning CBE
  • Friends of the Lake District, contact Jack Ellerby
  • Baron Inglewood of Hutton-in-the Forest
  • Frank Lee
  • Sir Martin Holdgate CBE
  • Open Spaces Society
  • Ray Woolmore
  • Yorkshire Dales Society, contact Colin Speakman

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