THE Government's new, all-embracing countryside watchdog is to be based in Yorkshire, it was announced over the weekend. Although the base in Sheffield is still a long way from the Yorkshire Dales, the news has been greeted with relief by many Dales environmental experts.
"Natural England will have to fight hard to establish itself because it is taking over duties carried out by established and well-respected bodies," one commentator told Daelnet.
"But that fact that it is being based in Yorkshire, rather than in some dusty corner of Whitehall miles away from any open countryside, is a step in the right direction."
The new body will take over the work of English Nature, and parts of the Countryside Agency and the Rural Development Service. Sheffield has been chosen because of its good transport links but also because it lies between three national parks: the Dales, North York Moors and the Peak District.
There will only be some 25 admin staff working in the South Yorkshire city, says Rural Affairs Minister Jim Knight, because the policy of the new body will be to base "front-line" experts around the country in areas where their expertise and advice is needed.