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Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks

Volume 601: debated on Monday 26 October 2015

I am today informing the House of my decision taken on Friday 23 October to extend the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks.

These will extend the Yorkshire Dales national park by nearly 24% and the Lake District by 3%, almost joining up the two parks. The extension areas will come into effect in August 2016. The dales and the lakes have some of our country’s finest landscapes, beautiful vistas and exciting wildlife. They are part of our national identity. The designation of these additional areas to the national parks will protect these landscapes for future generations.

By protecting and promoting access to wide swathes of rural England, the parks will provide attractive places to undertake physical activity and environmental volunteering, or simply enjoy the view or tranquillity. This will bring benefits for health and wellbeing and will strengthen the next generation’s connection with nature through activities available for families and children.

Tourism is vitally important to the rural economy, contributing around £11 billion each year. It is also the main driver behind 13% of rural employment and 10% of rural businesses. National parks are an important part of this visitor economy and more than 90 million people visit them each year, helping to boost rural economies.

Over one third of England’s protected foods are produced within the national parks. Since 2010, the number of protected foods in the UK has increased from 40 to 64.

The announcement of the extensions to the national parks builds on my vision for a 25-year environment plan, and is an important part of delivering this Government’s manifesto commitment to protection for natural landscapes to ensure Britain has the best natural environment anywhere.

An additional 188 square miles of land across Cumbria, Yorkshire and a small part of Lancashire will now be protected for future generations following the decision to extend the national parks.

In the Lake District this will include an area from Birkbeck fells common to Whinfell common and an area from Helsington barrows to Sizergh fell, an area north of Sizergh castle and part of the Lyth valley. In the Yorkshire Dales, it will include parts of the Orton Fells, the northern Howgill fells, Wild Boar fell and Mallerstang and Arbon, Middleton, Casterton and Leek Fells, the River Lune, and part of Firbank fell and other fells to the west of the River Lune.