'South Pennines Park' designation could protect Burnley's surrounding landscape

A horse rider gallops across the South Pennine landscape, cited in a Government report on the nations most precious areas
A horse rider gallops across the South Pennine landscape, cited in a Government report on the nations most precious areas

Burnley could soon be part of a new 'South Pennines Park' as part of a bid to protect the landscape of East Lanashire and surrounding areas.

A Government report on the future of England’s protected landscapes has praised the work being done to create a South Pennines Park.

The South Pennines, which includes large swathes of the Burnley area, is the only upland area of England not designated as a national park, or area of outstanding natural beauty.

The review, led by journalist Julian Glover, has published its final recommendations and urged the Yorkshire Dales and Peak District national parks to work alongside the proposed new area and also highlighted its partnership approach as a model to be encouraged elsewhere.

Helen Noble, Chief Executive of Pennines Prospects, which is championing the South Pennines Park plan, said: “We hosted a fact finding mission in the region for the review panel and they were clearly very impressed. Local authorities, campaigners, utility companies and landscape managers all spoke with passion and from the same hymn sheet.

"We don’t necessarily want a statutory designation, but would like to explore a new approach to managing our park, with people and conservation at the heart of sustainable development. What we seek is recognition for our work and the chance to benefit from additional resources.

"We do feel we are ahead of the game in what the Glover report urges, such as partnership working, community engagement and supporting access for minority groups to the countryside.”

Campaigners want to remedy this omission with a self-declared South Pennine Park, with an equal emphasis on protecting the landscape and addressing social inequality and climate change.

The move has the support of local authorities and other stakeholder in the 460 square mile area, which cuts across the Lancashire and Yorkshire county border and is home to 450,000 people.

Pennine Prospects chairman Pam Warhurst was recently invited to speak to the National Park Conference hosted in the Yorkshire Dales, where she laid out the plans for the new park.

The Glover report recommended that AONB designation be ditched and the 34 such areas be brought under a national landscapes banner, along with the current 10 English national parks.

The South Pennines embraces parts of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester. It is the landscape of the Pendle witches, the Brontes, Ted Hughes and the current Poet Laureate Simon Armitage.

Pennine Prospects was established in 2005 and promotes, protects and enhances the natural and cultural heritage of the region. Its membership includes local authorities, utility companies, the National Trust, community groups and other organisations.

A South Pennines Park will promote a resilient local economy, a landscape for the future and one that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Young people are being given a powerful voice in that future with a Youth Manifesto set to be launched in 2020. Work is currently underway on a National Lottery funded project to build management capacity and expertise and examine how a South Pennines Park will be funded.