RESIDENTS of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, who over the years have often held sharply contrasting views over the way the park authority (YDNPA) operates, are being invited to have their say in its future development.
Have your say on whether park has residents'
best interests in mind
For many years, the authority was subject to severe criticism from many local residents, with claims that it was more interested in the needs of visitors. Some of that criticism was in fact unjust: YDNPA grants more planning permissions than most other national parks, for instance.
In recent years, however, the park has been given wider responsibilities under national legislation and they included the statutory duty to consider the social and economic needs of residents. Since then, officials made sustained efforts to improve liaison with the local communities.
The next major step in that process is to ask for local comment on the park's future direction in one of the most exhaustive consultation processes ever undertaken. It will also ask for the views of visitors to the park on an up-dated, 30-page National Park Management Plan.
The draft plan has been put together by a steering group comprising statutory agencies - like English Nature - and the three local strategic partnerships for the South Lakeland, Richmondshire and Craven districts to try to ensure that it covers all the key local and national issues.
David Butterworth, the YDNPA's Chief Executive, said: "The management plan is a blueprint for the future of the national ark - not just for the national park authority - over the coming years.
"It was published in 2000 following wide consultation and set out an ambitious vision for the future that many different organisations and individuals have been working to achieve.
"It's a mixture of long-term aspirations and realistic short term goals - which are reviewed every five years. Achieving all the things in it depends on the input of an awful lot of different people, including residents and visitors."
Carl Lis, chairman of the YDNPA and of the Craven Local Strategic Partnership, said: "This is a very important document in that it sets out the overall direction the national park will be following in the future."
"During the last five years we have taken every opportunity to ask people questions and, as a result of that, we think we have managed to take account of the issues people have been raising with us. The response we get during the consultation period will tell us whether we have or not.
The draft plan - which is accompanied by an environmental report that assesses its potential effect on the environment - has been sent to more than 200 organisations, which have until August 9 to send in comments.
Copies are available on the YDNPA website at www.yorkshiredales.org.uk or by contacting the authority on 0870 1 66633.