An environmentally-friendly farmer who has been elected to lead the body responsible for the Yorkshire Dales National Park has revealed how he was once sceptical towards the organisation.
Neil Heseltine, who is so passionate about sustainable farming that he allows his cattle to continue grazing year after year until they reach the correct conformation for slaughter, said as chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority he was determined to pursue the “bold” climate emergency targets it had set under emergency powers in March.
He will speak for the authority, guide its work, maintain political links with the numerous councils the park spans across and other agencies and support the authority in fulfilling its statutory purposes.
Mr Heseltine, succeeds Craven District councillor Carl Lis, and paid tribute to his dedication to the national park over several terms and 12 years in the role.
Mr Heseltine, a fourth generation farmer from Malham and keen rugby player and cricketer, told a full meeting of the authority which was screened online that his first involvement with the national park authority had been in an advisory capacity on green lanes 14 years ago.
He said: “At the time, as a local, although broadly supportive of the national park, I was still very much in the camp of ‘bloody national parks, what have they ever done for us?’”
He said the unseen work that the national park does was not always appreciated.
Mr Heseltine, who produces ‘public goods’ such as wildflower meadows and pastures rich in biodiversity, at his farm, said: “That misconception of the park is something we still have to work on.”
He added he was particularly motivated by the landscapes and communities of the national park. He said: “We are in the midst of one of the biggest challenges of our lives, but with that challenge comes opportunity and new ways of working.”