If confirmed by the Secretary of State, the new areas would join the ranks of some of the country's most highly protected landscapes and would amount to the most significant addition to England's National Parks since the confirmation of the South Downs in 2009.
The potential to extend the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks has been considered for a number of years. Natural England took over statutory responsibility for designating protected landscapes in 2006 and continued a major study of possible new areas around the two Parks.
Detailed assessments have been made of three criteria for inclusion - the natural beauty of the proposed extensions, the opportunities that they provide for open air recreation and the desirability of looking after them as National Parks. Impact assessments have helped identify the environmental, social, economic and recreational impacts that designation would be likely to bring.
Since 2009 two phases of face to face and online consultation have been conducted to ask for views from the public, local communities, statutory agencies, interested organisations and local authorities. Over two thirds of respondents said they were in favour of extending the National Parks and there was widespread consensus that the proposals met the criteria.
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Poul Christensen, Chair of Natural England said: "The Board's decision to proceed towards the designation of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks is the result of many years of detailed assessment work and public consultation. It represents an important opportunity to ensure that these special landscapes are looked after for future generations to enjoy. The decision to designate these areas is subject to confirmation by the Secretary of State and we look forward to presenting our recommendations to her in due course."
The proposed variation to the Yorkshire Dales National Park includes:
to the north, parts of the Orton Fells, the northern Howgill Fells, Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang; and
to the west, Barbon, Middleton, Casterton and Leck Fells, the River Lune and, part of Firbank Fell and other fells to the west of the river.
The proposed variation to the Lake District National Park includes:
to the east, an area from Birkbeck Fells Common to Whinfell Common; and
to the south an area from Helsington Barrows to Sizergh Fell, and part of the Lyth Valley
Natural England's recommendations are subject to confirmation by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and will be submitted by Natural England in the form of Variation Orders early next year.
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