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Sunrise at Ribblehead The sun rising over Pen-y-ghent in Upper Ribblesdale

New horizons at National Parks conference

Tuesday 8 October, 2019, by

Two weeks ago I was so proud of our National Park, our staff and our Members.  Somebody up there was looking after us when our Park got, by rota, the hosting of the UK National Parks NATIONAL conference!  And, because I am the Member Champion for ‘promoting understanding’, I got to work with our fab staff on the planning and organising.

Welcoming delegates to the UK National Parks Conference 2019

Our biggest challenge was to show off our wonderful, splendid, amazing National Park without turning the two days into a ‘full on’ tourist experience.  Let me explain.  We had representatives (Chairs, Members and CEOs) from all over the UK’s 15 National Parks: four delegates per Park, plus speakers and civil servants and writers and partners– over 100 delegates in total – and we all wanted to learn and talk ‘National Parks’;  that’s why we chose the theme ‘new horizons!’

So the way we did this was to offer 10 different all-day visits; each visit looked at the issues and a particular thing that happens in the Park, such as farms, quarrying, caving, cycling, and so on. 

(Images clockwise from top left: on their various tours delegates walked to Smardale Gill Viaduct in the western extension area of the National Park, had a thrilling underground adventure, were shown around Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery by business owner Stu Taylor, and enjoyed a behind-the-scenes visit to Swinden Quarry, thanks to the conference’s headline partners, Tarmac)

I had the privilege of co-hosting the visit to Hawes, which was on the theme of community sustainability.  Obviously, when we planned it, we expected former National Park Authority Member John Blackie to host it, but it turned out his legacy did him proud.

So we learnt about the community ownership and support of a petrol station, a post office, a library, a police station and a bus service.  We looked at how the Wensleydale Creamery brings in the tourists and creates local employment – lots of it!  We saw how, even with goodwill, not everything flies when we visited Gayle Mill.  And we finished at our lovely Dales Countryside Museum to hear about how a small, remote community sustains an award-winning museum.  We started and ended the day with a ride on the Settle-Carlisle railway – what was not to like.

(Images clockwise from top left: our tour to Hawes included a visit to Wensleydale Creamery, while other delegates summited Ingleborough, called in at the Kirkby Lonsdale Community Interest Company office, and enjoyed a sheep dog demo from Richard Fawcett)

Then it was back to the splendid Coniston Hotel for a great dinner, and the presentation of our Platinum Awards for both National Park and individual endeavours.  We also had briefings from the English, Scottish and Welsh governments on day 1, and three major debates on day 3 – on the environment, health and well being, and engaging young people.

(Images clockwise from top left: our conference session speakers on day 3 were Tony Juniper (Chair, Natural England) on the natural environment, Dr William Bird on health and well-being, and Georgina Umney on engaging young people. Meanwhile, Xander Johnston received the New Horizons young person’s award (seen here with Authority Chairman Carl Lis) for his passionate championing of Cairngorms National Park’s biodiversity)

So a very full-on 48 hours (only 48? really?) and a gauntlet thrown down to Exmoor National Park Authority to whom the baton has been passed for 2021!

You can watch all the conference presentations and ‘The Very Best Of The Yorkshire Dales National Park’, and the 70th anniversary ‘Our National Park Family’ films on our You Tube channel;



12 Replies to “New horizons at National Parks conference”

  1. I’d like to raise the topic of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging points. The Yorkshire Dales – like most of our National Parks in England and Wales, are a desert bereft of charging. There are now literally tens of thousands of EVs being driven in the UK and a major switch to them occurring over the next ten years.
    Right now, anyone owning an EV is best advised NOT to stay in our National Parks. Ironic given that many have made the expensive switch in order to protect the environment.
    Fortunately a total of four holiday cottages are now fitted with chargers in the whole of the Yorkshire Dales (yes, there’s a map showing them). And we’ve managed to secure one of them again for a week long stay in September 2020, otherwise we would have to avoid the area – which we’ve visited at least once per year for the past 30 years.
    PLEASE can I ask that this topic makes it on to the agenda and gets some focus. Grants are available for installation and even getting hotels and holiday cottages to install an external 13A power point can be sufficient to make a stay possible. Please act before the situation gets worse. Thank you.

    • I would suggest that as per the message from Rob that the park seriously encourages the most environmental means of transport. It’s generally a very simple task for cottages with parking to offer charging for Electric car owners and not costly at all. Cottages with charging are added to PlugShare (a charging map on Britain) and easily located by those who have an EV and wish to book accommodation with charging. Would be great to lake the Dales the National Park of choice for green cars by encouraging property owners (who will get more bookings too)

      • Comms Team says:

        Hello Rob and Martyn. Thank you for your comments. I’m in the process of getting a response and information for you from my colleagues. I will come back to you as soon as possible. Wendy (Communications team).

    • Comms Team says:

      Hello Rob and Martyn. Thank you for your comments. I’m in the process of getting a response and information for you from my colleagues. I will come back to you as soon as possible. Wendy (Communications team).

  2. Thanks, Wendy. Much appreciated.

    The Government have announced that fossil-fuelled cars will no longer be sold after 2040. The date is currently being reviewed with a proposal to bring it forward to 2035 and pressure to make it 2030. I’m concerned that some areas are sleepwalking into a significant problem.

    In Scotland, the Government has been supporting the provision of EV charging for several years and now has an extremely good public network.

    There are now 30,000 charge points across the UK in 11,000 locations. In the whole of the Yorkshire Dales National Park I think I’m correct in saying there are two locations, four chargers. You can check this here:

    I don’t know which public body is responsible for providing charge points, but I know the area is heading toward a significant reduction in tourism unless action is taken quickly. Please forgive my sense of urgency… but I really do think this is urgent.

    • Wendy McDonnell says:

      Good morning, Rob. Thank you for your patience, I have now been able to obtain a response from the relevant colleague, which is below.

      It’s taken time to roll out the network of charging points into the Yorkshire Dales. This is likely the case because of its distance from the main urban centres and because it not crossed by the strategic road network.  In our experience, this has often been the case with other forms of technology such as mobile phone signals and broadband connections, which have also taken longer to penetrate into the Park and other deep rural areas of northern England. There are still farms and some isolated homes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park that are not yet connected to the national grid.

      The good news though is that we are fitting EV charging at our car parks. We have dedicated car park spaces and have installed EV change points in the car parks operated by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority at Aysgarth Falls, Grassington and Hawes. We hope this will encourage visitors with electric cars to enjoy this special place.
      Accepting that this is the start of the process, we hope that by providing these charge points and promoting information about the wider network in the Dales, this will help to build confidence in visitors with electric cars, whilst also assisting us in our aim for the National Park to be resilient and responsive to the impacts of climate change. To this end, we have also made available a pot of funding under the Sustainable Development Fund. This allows businesses to apply for funding to support projects which fulfill the criteria.
      In terms of planning EV charging doesn’t generally require planning permission (except in proximity to listed buildings). At this time we are not putting a specific planning policy about them in our new local plan and will expect developers, householders and businesses to make provision alongside other aspects of modern living in their development proposals.
      Thank you for your comments, it is very useful to get feedback about this issue and it is something that we will feedback into any discussions with partnerships and other authorities that we work with in the Yorkshire Dales National Park area.

      You can find out more about our future plans for the Park in our National Park Management Plan.

    • Wendy McDonnell says:

      I’ve had a further update from our Estate’s manager, Rob. Please see below. If you would like to talk to anyone further let me know and I can provide you with some contacts. Wendy

      To add, we were successful with an ORCS grant to install another 7 dual vehicle chargers at our car parks. This grant covers 75% of the infrastructure costs. We are in the process of finalising the procurement and aim to start installations in the next two months.

      The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) created the On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS), providing grant funding for local authorities to install on-street charge points.

  3. The Dales this week and benefitted from the new chargers at Aysgarth Falls. We were able to stop there for a couple of hours and charge – allowing us an onward drive to visit my Brother in Helmsley and return with a comfortable 40 miles of range. Without the Aysgarth charge that would have left us with 12 miles – too close for comfort.
    Great news that you’ll be installing more chargers. It will take a lot more for EV drivers to feel comfortable to visit and not worry that the chargers will be in use when they arrive.
    The latest figures just released show almost 10% of new cars registered in the past 12 months are EVs (fully electric, no petrol or diesel). Even with 10 pairs of chargers and cars only charging for a brief top-up for two hours, you can see how few cars it caters for per day. So thank you to all concerned, but there’s no room for complacency.
    Companies like Tesla offer free 7kW ‘destination chargers’ to hotels and restaurants. I believe that effort in educating and communicating to the many venues in our National parks would be even more effective that purely rolling-out installations in public car parks. Hopefully someone on the team has the remit, knowledge, and time to achieve significant goals in this direction? Maybe 100 extra installed by Christmas? With the right communication it really wouldn’t take much doing. Should I be discussing this with someone focused on assisting restaurants and hotels, guest houses and holiday lets?

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