The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) is the independent body that oversees the Dales. I met with Chief Executive David Butterworth to understand more about what the Authority does and its interaction with the local community.
The National Park was created 60 years ago and is one of 15 in the UK. As well as being a place of outstanding natural beauty it is also a living, breathing community, home to 20,000 people. It attracts over 8m day visitors each year, making it one of the most popular National Parks in the UK and a source of great pride for us all here.
As well as typical park activities, the YDNPA is also responsible for planning in the National Park. It is also important to know that 95% of the land in the park is owned and looked after by private individuals – largely farmers. These farmers are spending their own time and resources to help maintain an area that is enjoyed by many for free.
The YDNPA is accountable to a large 22 member board made up of 16 local county, district and parish councilors, and 8 members appointed by central government. This mix is meant to reflect the responsibilities of the Park to both the local community and also the country; its funding also comes largely from central government.
The YDNPA’s role as laid down in statute is to: conserve the natural beauty, enable the public to enjoy it, and also to promote the economic well being of the community.
Getting this balance right is tricky. A lot of constituents feel more could be done to promote economic development – for example on converting more disused barns into useable homes or offices. If elected, a key part of my job will be making sure we are getting the balance right between development and conservation for local residents.