An alternative National Park — covering 460 square miles of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester — has been launched and includes Burnley.
South Pennines Park aims to bolster recognition and unlock financial resources for the only upland in England that is not a designated National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The Park founders are establishing a flexible operating blueprint for managing the landscape that gives people a significant voice — a first of its kind in the UK.
The South Pennines Park will ensure support for cross boundary working on key projects, like flood protection, tourism, transport, heritage and conservation. It offers a new model for how non-designated areas can contribute to the government’s objectives on levelling up and restoring our natural environment and pursues an integrated approach to environmental, social and economic objectives.
The idea for the Park was first discussed in the 1940s, and today represents a key milestone in its development. The operating model has been set up by Pennine Prospects, who are working in partnership with local authorities in the park area, as well as Natural England, United Utilities, Yorkshire Water, the National Trust, transport providers and other communities and conservation groups.
Helen Noble, Chief Executive of Pennine Prospects, which will be also renamed South Pennines Park, says:
“The need for a Park was absolutely clear because the South Pennines Park region needs a champion at national level to fight for it, protect it and seek sustainable investment. Over 8 million people live within 30 minutes of the park and more than 660,000 live in it — twice the population of all the English National Park put together. It is an area of stunning scenery; a spectacular ever-evolving landscape that has been moulded and shaped by the people, the packhorses, footsteps of yesteryear; rich in industrial and cultural heritage.
“What we are launching is an exciting, bold and forward-thinking vision for one of the UK’s most diverse and unique regions.
“We’re excited to be taking an inclusive approach to making the South Pennines Park work for the people who live, work and visit it. Because it will unlock the resources needed to ensure residents and visitors enjoy the positive benefits of being closer to nature.”
The South Pennines Park is situated between Greater Manchester, the Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales, and West Yorkshire, covers 460 sq miles and is home to more than 660,000 people.
The move to establish the new support structure for the South Pennines Park follows on from the Government-commissioned Glover Review into the future of the nation’s designated landscapes. This called for alternative models to be looked at and specifically cited the South Pennines Park as a prime candidate for a different approach.
Adds Helen Noble:
“We are bringing together communities, public and privates sector bodies and other stakeholders and together we have a shared vision for the South Pennines Park and we are all committed to working together champion the area.
“As well as bringing together communities in the South Pennines we are also talking to Government and MPs about our approach. Without the Park each body is left to compete against each other for funding. This approach means they can pool resources and drive collaboration in key areas like conservation, tourism, transport and hospitality. But a common thread for all our partners is ensuring we connect people to nature.”