The BMC has heartily welcomed the decision by environment minister Liz Truss to grant extensions to the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District national parks, but hopes the process of putting them in place is not further delayed by spending decisions.
The area covered by the Yorkshire Dales National Park is set to expand by nearly a quarter while the Lake District National Park will increase by three per cent – extensions totalling 188 square miles.
It will wrap up what broadcaster Eric Robson described as "one of the great bits of unfinished business in the British countryside," bringing the Orton Fells, the northern Howgill Fells, Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang into the Yorkshire Dales and two new areas including the 'other' Borrowdale, Birkbeck Fells Common and Sizergh Fell into the Lake District.
Due to be implemented in August 2016, the extensions will mean the two great northern national parks almost touch, seperated only by the M6 Corridor in the Lune Valley.
The BMC heartily welcomes the decision by Liz Truss, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to approve the plans, but hopes the process of putting them in place is not further delayed by decisions announced in the November 25 spending review.
BMC Access and Conservation Officer Catherine Flitcroft said: "This decision is great news for outdoor enthusiasts, local residents and wider society.
"These extensions are particularly welcome because they encompass landscapes that should rightfully have been included in the parks from the beginning, correcting anomalies like half of the Howgills being contained in the Yorkshire Dales national park but not the other, or the fact that the wonderful limestone pavement of the Orton Fells was missing. In the Lake District, it is right that places like the 'other' Borrowdale are now set to be included.
"However, we are concerned there is a risk the plans could be delayed by details to be announced in the November 25 spending review. Implementing these plans will cost money and we hope the government does not take decisions which could impact on this, or other outstanding projects like coastal access in England.
"National parks represent some of the best 'value for money' in public spending. English national parks alone contribute around £4.1 - 6.3 billion to the economy, equivalent to the aerospace industry, but only cost about £50 million to run.
"They also reduce the pressure on the health service by providing inspiring environments for healthy lifestyles, and provide untold intangible benefits to the wellbeing and culture of society."
The proposals were first mooted by Natural England back in 2012, leading to a public consultation in which 90% of the 3,000 respondents supported the plans. Objections from local councils led to a public inquiry, and the decision of the Inspector to recommend the extensions.
Liz Truss' decision gives the governmental green light to the plans, but the legality of the orders can still be challenged by making an application to the High Court.
See maps of the boundary extensions here
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