The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has welcomed news that the Government has done a u-turn and found extra funding for England's National Parks over the next two years.
The Environment Department, Defra, supplies the majority of funding to the nine National Parks in England and at the beginning of the year announced that it was to freeze the £4.9m grant that the Yorkshire Dales received in 2005/2006 at the same level for the financial years 2006/2007 and 2007/2008.
Funding boost for Yorkshire Dales National Park
That news sparked a claim from Authority Chairman Carl Lis that some work undertaken by the National Park would be badly hit this year - and drastic action would have to be taken in 2007/2008.
But, following intense lobbying by National Park Authorities across the country, Defra announced today that it will be making an extra £3.1m available to be shared between the nine English National Park Authorities over the next two years.
Environment Minister Jim Knight said the increase demonstrated the Government's commitment to National Parks: "I have often said that if I could find an extra pound in our budgets I would give it to National Parks, who do such wonderful work and provide such good value for money."
For the Dales this will mean a grant of £5.02m next year - a 2.5 per cent increase or an extra £116,000 when compared to 2005/2006 - and £5.15m in 2007/2008 - a further increase of 2.7 per cent to be added to the 2006/2007 grant or, in cash terms, £244,000 more.
Welcoming the increase, Mr Lis said: "The Authority is and has always been striving to be as efficient as possible.
"However, despite our best efforts, we were faced with a standstill budget that would have meant some services and projects not progressing and others being scrapped. It is very good news that Defra has decided to increase the grant level to take into account inflation.
"It means we will be able to continue improving the projects and services we carry out for the benefit of the landscape, wildlife and communities within the National Park and for the millions of visitors who come here every year.
"I would like to add my personal thanks to Rural Affairs Minister Jim Knight for his efforts on our behalf. "
In January Mr Lis said the settlement was "extremely disappointing" and would mean budgets for a number of different projects would have to be frozen or reduced in order to achieve the savings need to fund inflation.
The Authority's Chief Executive, David Butterworth, said: "Following the announcement of the freeze, we were involved in some very intense lobbying of Government.
"I am delighted that the Minister, Jim Knight, has considered and accepted our case that National Parks continue to represent real value for money for the nation."