Government aid visits Calderdale as South Pennines bids for Regional Park status

Julian Glover visited Yorkshire today.
Julian Glover visited Yorkshire today.

It's been a big day for the campaign to bring official park status to Calderdale after the Government aid tasked with reviewing the structure visited the region this morning.

The South Pennines region, a ridge of hills between the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales national parks that stretches from Todmorden to Ilkley and Ramsbottom, has been the subject of a campaign to be awarded the status for decades.

And today those putting its bid together met Government aid Julian Glover in Halifax to show him what the region has to offer.

Some 70 years on from the original designation of national park status was passed into law, Mr Glover said:

"The Government have asked me and others who are here today to take a look at how we can continue our provision of those areas and improve them.

"But it goes beyond those places which have already got that designation and protection. We're keen to see places that don't have that level of protection that national park status offers as well as reviewing the ones that do."

Alongside the marketing benefits of the designation of national park status, Mr Glover explained it would put in place a structure for authorities across the region to 'join-up' their thinking on how best to preserve the region's landscape.

He said: "The status joins things up and allows people to think more broadly about how towns are linked, how the landscape of different places are linked.

"It's no good just looking at small patches, you need a network of understanding as to how how the wildlife fits in with farming and town life and so on.

"It offers a guidance strategy and gets someone thinking about the area as a whole. A town like halifax will have different ideas and priorities compared with another place, and its about joining all these ideas up.

"It helps sell it to people that you don't have to go up to the Lake Distract or the Peak District. It tells people that everything is right here and its amazing."

Speaking at the outset of his day in the region, he said: "I see there are great people and a great project here. There are lots of communities and lots of ideas that make this interesting.

"We're not yet at a place where we can go about making decisions, we're not about to announce anything, but it's really good to hear what people up here are saying.

"We often think of national parks as wild places, but people are what makes these places function.

The former Guardian journalist refused to be drawn on the likelihood of the region being awarded the status, but seemed enthusiastic about the region as a whole.

"There's no set list of criteria as there was all those years ago when this was all first set out," he said, "but at the core are requirements of natural beauty, wildness and a sense that people want to come here and explore the area.

"There's such an enthusiasm for it. We put something out asking people to send in photos of places that mean a lot to them, whether that's a lanscape or a particular place, and we had 1,000 sent back to us. There's huge amounts of enthusiasm."