News story

National Parks to extend by size of Isle of Wight

Today the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Lake District National Park officially extended.

Two of our most iconic National Parks – the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District – have extended their boundaries for the first time in a bid to protect our precious countryside and boost rural tourism, Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom announced today.

From the historic Sizergh Castle and postcard village of Orton to the breath-taking Lyth Valley, the extensions will see nearly 200 square miles – an area bigger than the Isle of Wight – protected for generations to come.

Over 20 million people already visit the rugged Dales and majestic Lakes each year. Extending these unique spaces will create the largest stretch of almost continuous National Park in England and attract thousands more people to the region – adding to over £1.8 billion a year already generated by visitors to these Parks.

The extension also supports the Government’s long-term plan for the environment, a manifesto commitment currently being developed with local authorities, communities and environmental groups across the country.

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom said:

The Dales and Lake District are part of our nation’s proud identity – immortalised by W. H. Auden and Wordsworth, they are home to some of our country’s most beautiful and rugged landscapes.

Today’s extension will virtually join up these precious natural assets, supporting the local economy, creating jobs and securing the area’s reputation as one of our country’s most attractive tourist destinations for generations to come.

National Parks contribute £4 billion to our economy each year – from Wensleydale Cheese to Herdwick lamb they are also home to over one third of England’s protected food names.

With tourism responsible for 13% of rural employment and 10% of rural businesses, today’s extension will not only attract more people to the region, but could potentially create hundreds more jobs and boost local economies.

Andrew Sells, Chairman of Natural England, the Government’s statutory adviser on landscape with responsibilities for designating and amending boundaries of National Parks, added:

This is a momentous day for the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District National Parks, as well as for the wider family of protected landscapes. The additional areas which now form part of each National Park are very special places that deserve all the care and attention designation will bring.

We all very much look forward to the benefits these extensions will bring to local businesses, the wider community and all those who visit these cherished landscapes.

Chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Carl Lis said:

I’m eternally grateful for the extraordinary work so many people have put in to make today a reality. The Government decision to extend the boundary is an illustration of how important National Parks are to the people and to the fabric of this country.

For the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, the hard work starts now. But through our passion for this special place, working alongside local people and businesses, we will ensure it remains a thriving area: its unique cultural landscape will be treasured for its stunning scenery, exceptional heritage and wonderful wildlife, and every year millions of people will be inspired to be a part of it.

Chief Executive of the Lake District National Park, Richard Leafe, said:

Today is a historic day for the Lake District National Park and one that deserves celebration. This extension represents unfinished business for the park and the new boundary line will be more fitting, following the natural landscape.

This extension was largely supported by the communities, showing that there continues to be a high level of support and recognition for the good work that is done in national parks. We’re looking forward to maintaining and improving the environment in these new areas, particularly the rights of ways, creating even more of the Lake District for people to enjoy.

The extension of the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District National Parks will play an important role in delivering the National Parks Plan, which launched earlier this year to help young people better connect with their local environment through a programme of visits, apprenticeships and volunteering.

Further information

  • The Yorkshire Dales and Lake District National Parks have extended their boundaries by 24% and 3% respectively. The extensions cover around 188 square miles.
  • The decision to extend the Parks was announced last October.
  • According to STEAM 2015 (Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Model), there are 17.32 million visitors to the Lake District National Park and 9.30 million visitors to the Yorkshire Dales National Park wider area
  • According to STEAM 2015, visitors spend over £1.8 billion in Lakes and Dales a year (the economic impact of visitors and tourism businesses was £1.2 billion in the Lake District National Park and £605 million in the Yorkshire Dales National Park wider area in 2015.)