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Visit the Dales


Q&A with David Butterworth (Chief Executive)

What’s happened?

The Yorkshire Dales National Park has been extended – in fact it has increased in size by nearly a quarter. From 1 August 2016, the boundary covers new areas in Cumbria and into Lancashire. This brings us to within touching distance of the Lake District National Park, which is also growing by around 3%.

How big is the Yorkshire Dales National Park now?

The new area has added on an extra 417 square kilometres (161 square miles) meaning that the Yorkshire Dales National Park now covers 2,179 square kilometres (841 square miles).

Where is the new boundary?

The Yorkshire Dales National Park now includes parts of the Orton Fells, the northern Howgill Fells, Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang to the north, and, to the west, Barbon, Middleton, Casterton and Leck Fells, and part of Firbank Fell and other fells to the west of the River Lune.

And what about the Lake District?

It has grown by 3% - an extra 27 square miles. The Lake District National Park includes an area from Birkbeck Fells Common to Whinfell Common to the east and area from Helsington Barrows to Sizergh Fell, an area north of Sizergh Castle and part of the Lyth valley to the south.

Will the name change?

The name Yorkshire Dales National Park was written on the designation order in 1954, which was created by act of Parliament, and the Government has announced there is no plan to change it.

But doesn’t it also include parts of Cumbria and Lancashire?

12% of the Yorkshire Dales National Park was already in Cumbria. Now that has increased to 27% and for the first time 1% of it is in Lancashire too. The current population is around 20,000 and this will rise to around 24,000.

Any extra money?

Yes. We were pleased that, in the 2015 Spending Review, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that funding for National Parks  would be protected. Additional monies have also been made available to the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District National Parks in order that they can carry out their responsibilities in the extension areas.

Will there be a bigger Board?

Yes. A Government consultation took place on future governance arrangements. The Government's proposal that the Authority's Board would increase from 22 to 25, with the three additional Members coming from the three new constituent authorities - Eden District Council, City of Lancaster and Lancashire County Council - was confirmed on 15 April 2016.

Is the expansion good news?

We think so! We are thrilled that these stunning landscapes have been recognised as worthy of national park status. As consultees, we supported designation of these areas on the quality of the landscape and recreational opportunities - it was amazing that they were missed out back in 1954.

The addition of a further 161 square miles does present challenges. However, extending the boundaries of these beautiful and internationally iconic areas should provide a boost to tourism in the area, supporting rural businesses and potentially adding millions more to the £4 billion already generated by visitors to the National Parks each year.

Why were these areas not included when the Yorkshire Dales National Park was first created?

When the boundary was drawn in 1954, it was done so on the administrative and political boundaries that existed at that time.

Why has it taken so long?

This anomaly has been much discussed since and often referred to as ‘unfinished business’. In the north west on the old West Riding boundary, for example, you could stand on the Howgills summit and have one foot in the National Park and one foot out.

Around ten years ago following publication of the 'Forgotten Landscapes' report by Friends of the Lake District, Natural England undertook a detailed examination to look at extending the boundary of both National Parks. The huge exercise that followed involved consultation with businesses, landowners, local communities and the wider public.

In its response as a consultee, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority agreed with Natural England’s assessment. We supported designation - these amazing areas had special qualities in common with the National park - subject to an increase in resources and in membership in order to both adequately reflect the political representation of the areas designated and to maintain the current level of representation within the existing National Park area.

A new boundary was drawn up and, after five local authorities raised objections, a public inquiry was held in 2013. The Government Inspector concluded that the original reasons for excluding these areas were now largely irrelevant and they were worthy of designation. 

The long anticipated and welcome news that the boundary would be extended was announced by Environment Secretary Liz Truss on 23 October 2015 and the new area became part of the National Park on 1 August 2016.

What does it mean for people in the area?

We will be listening to and learning from the local communities, farmers, landowners, interest groups and businesses to enable us to develop productive, long-term relationships with all these parties.

I genuinely believe that by working together we can make the most of the wonderful opportunities - for both the landscape, local communities and the economy.