Bid for Coast to Coast path protected status among park’s new objectives

Work to flights of steps at Swinner Gill near Keld on the Coast to Coast path. Picture: Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

The body charged with managing the Yorkshire Dales National Park is set to adopt measures to shape its future for the next five years, with a plan up upgrade the status of the Coast to Coast route among its objectives.

After almost two years of planning and consultations, members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority are set to  agree a final set of objectives as part of the single most important document for the management of the 841 sq mile area until 2024.

The document, which is set to be launched in November, will be the first to cover the revised area of the national park since its extension by 24 per cent in 2016.

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The plan, which a steering group, including government agencies, local authorities and representatives from the rural estates, farmer and tourism businesses, has helped shape, features 50 objectives, which 80 organisations will work to deliver.

New objectives in the plan include to campaign for the 192-mile Coast-to-Coast footpath, which runs from St Bees Head in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire, to be given National Trail status by 2024.

If granted the status, the route devised by author Alfred Wainwright would be given national funding alongside the 15 existing National Trails, such as the Pennine Way and the Cleveland Way, and looked after by Natural England.

Another fresh objective in the plan will be to support land managers to create more resilient landscapes through strategies to cut the risk and spread of invasive non-native species, such as Himalayan Balsam, which out-competes native vegetation leaving areas with little diversity.

Other species of concern include Japanese Knotweed and Signal Crayfish, which are a particular problem in the River Ure and parts of the River Swale.

The plan also outlines action to respond to threats from pests and diseases that threaten the environment of the national park.

Following concerns over waste and litter in the national park, a move to develop ‘Circular Economy’ strategies – that extract the maximum value from rubbish whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials – is also set to be adopted.

Other new objectives include results-based farming support, natural flood
management, and encouraging first-time visitors to the park.

In a report to the authority’s members, its head of sustainable development Peter Stockton said the plan would be used to inform everything from the setting of the budget to the detailed targets in individual staff appraisals.

He said several of the objectives, including developing services on the Settle-Carlisle and Wensleydale railways, peat restoration and housebuilding, were “deliberately very ambitious”, and did not yet have sufficient funding to implement them.

Mr Stockton said: “By putting them in the plan, the Steering Group is wanting to maintain the current momentum to try to tackle these issues, and making a commitment to work collectively to seek and lobby for the necessary funding to deliver them.”