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Success story for National Park management plan

Grassington, 22 June, 2012.

People living and working in the Yorkshire Dales National Park have almost completed a list of jobs aimed at making it an even better place for people and wildlife.

A National Park Management Plan published in 2007 set out 70 objectives to help a wide range of organisations, businesses; landowners, farmers, community groups and volunteers to work together for the benefit of the area.

Five years later, more than 90 per cent of the objectives have either been ticked off or are well on the way to being met.

They range from helping farmers and landowners to restore more than 4,000 hectares of upland heath and blanket bog to the installation of three local hydropower schemes. 

And a report going to next week’s (June 26) Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) meeting shows that 49 of them (70 per cent) have now been achieved and 17 others (24 per cent) have made at least some good progress.

Carl Lis, the chairman of the Steering Group that oversaw the production of the Plan, said: “Overall, good – and, in some cases, excellent – progress has been made in achieving the objectives.  All the organisations represented on the Steering Group would like to thank the thousands of people who have helped to make it such a success.

“Given that more than 95 per cent of the National Park is in private ownership, it’s essential that organisations and individuals work together in looking after it.  The fact that all but four of the objectives have been completely or partially met is a fantastic achievement.”

Mr Lis, who is also the YDNPA chairman, said the next five-year management plan – which is currently being drawn up by the Steering Group – must build on the work done so far.

“None of those involved should become complacent – the National Park is facing many challenges in the future, not least from the impact of climate change and the current economic recession,” he said.

Among the successes of the existing National Park Management Plan are:

  • the area of the National Park covered by some form of environmental agreement has increased by over 40,000 hectares.  That means 85 per cent is now covered, compared to only 70 per cent in 2008;
  • 98 per cent of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (covering almost 50,000 hectares) are now in ‘favourable or recovering’ condition compared to only 76 per cent in 2006;
  • the National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund has funded 175 local economic, social and environmental projects, worth over £3 million;
  • All the 30 sensitive ‘green lanes’ (unsurfaced, unclassified roads) now have appropriate measures in place to manage their use by motorised recreational vehicles;
  • 89 per cent of public rights of way are now ‘easy to use’, compared to only 77 per cent in 2007;
  • around £1 million has been provided to rural regeneration and rural service projects through the two LEADER funding programmes covering the National Park;
  • over 6,000 hectares of upland heath and blanket bog have been restored to more natural drainage;
  • 510 hectares of new native, broad-leaved woodland have been planted;
  • over 29,000 days of work have been provided by volunteers;
  • there are now only 10 Scheduled Monuments on English Heritage’s ‘Heritage at Risk’ Register.  Overall, the number of Monuments ‘at high or medium risk’ has been reduced from 82 in 2008 to 44; 
  • over 200 hectares of hay meadow have been restored;
  • 128 km of rights of way have been made accessible to users with limited mobility;
  • there are now only four buildings on English Heritage’s ‘Heritage at Risk’ Register.  When Grade II listed buildings are included, the total number of listed buildings ‘at risk’ has been reduced from 90 to 67;
  • three hydro-power schemes, totalling 175 kW, have been installed;
  • the new 83 km Pennine Bridleway route through the National Park is now open.


Of the four objectives that have not been met, one involving a ‘code of practice’ for contractors carrying out building conservation work was not considered to be sufficiently high priority in the current economic climate and three – relating to a possible ‘quiet lanes’ project, education and awareness-raising work – have been formally abandoned.  

The National Park Management Plan Steering Group is made up of representatives from 14 local organisations and statutory environmental agencies.

A copy of the Steering Group’s report, giving details of progress on all the objectives in the Management Plan, is available on the National Park Authority’s website at www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/yorkshire_dales_national_park_management_plan
 
Note to Newsdesk
The organisations represented on the National Park Management Plan Steering Group are: Craven District Council; Cumbria County Council; Dales Farmer Network; Dales Rural Estates Network; Dales Tourism Business Network; English Heritage; Environment Agency; Forestry Commission; Natural England; North Yorkshire County Council; One South Lakeland; Richmondshire District Council; Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority; Yorkshire Dales Society.

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