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Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks

Volume 557: debated on Tuesday 29 January 2013

Today I am announcing a public inquiry to hear representations to the variation orders to extend the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks, including objections from six local authorities.

The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 requires Natural England to consider from time to time what areas there are in England that meet the criteria for national park status, and whether it is especially desirable that such areas should be designated. In November 2011 Natural England issued variation orders to extend the boundaries of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales national parks. The orders were submitted to the DEFRA Secretary of State in January 2012.

Over 3,000 objections, representations or expressions of support were received in response to the proposals, including objections from five local authorities. It is a statutory requirement that a public inquiry is held if at least one local authority with land in a proposed extension raises an objection to a relevant variation order. I have therefore commissioned a public inquiry into the recommended boundary changes and an inspector from the Planning Inspectorate has been appointed to conduct the inquiry.

As a first step, a pre-inquiry meeting will be held in early March with the inquiry itself expected to open in early June; lasting approximately four weeks. Following the inquiry the inspector will make recommendations to the Secretary of State as to whether he believes the proposed extensions meet the designation criteria as set out in the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.

Once the Secretary of State has received the inspector’s report he will then take a decision as to whether the case for designation has been made and he will either confirm the variation orders (with or without modifications) or reject them.