THE gap between the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District national parks may soon be closed if the Government quango Natural England has its way.
The gap, on both sides of the M6 and the old A6 trunk road up to Shap Fell contains some of the most spectacular scenery in northern England, including parts of the Howgill Hills, but does not have the protection of national park status.
Natural England has wanted to extend these boundaries for some time but the4 investigation were put on hold when legal problems arose over the creation of England’s newest national park on the South Downs.
Those problems have now been resolved and Natural England has announced that plans to close the Dales-Lakes gap have now been re-opened.
Says Poul Christensen, acting chairman of Natural England: “I am delighted that our work in reviewing parts of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Park boundaries in the North West can now continue.
“It is fitting that as we celebrate 60 years of National Parks - and all that they have achieved for people and wildlife - we now have a unique opportunity to look at a major expansion of two of England’s most cherished protected areas.”
Conservationists will keep their fingers crossed that the project succeeds because, two years ago, the area round Whinash in the disputed corridor was the subject of an extremely bitter planning enquiry over plans to build a huge wind farm whose turbines could be seen for miles around.
Planning permission was eventually refused – but with the present Government committed to highly optimistic targets for producing more “green” electricity, there have been fears that a new, similar project could be launched. National park status would make such an operation much more difficult to achieve.