Our National Parks
We cannot afford to take our hard won National Parks for granted.
In England and Wales growing industrialisation in the nineteenth century fuelled a desire for people to be able to escape the towns and cities and to be able to enjoy the beauty, peace and fresh air of the countryside. In the late 19th century James Bryce MP started a campaign for public access to the countryside by introducing the first “freedom to roam” bill to parliament in 1884. The bill failed but the campaign had begun. People were passionate about having the freedom to walk in the countryside and in 1932 there was what became known as the 'Kinder Mass Trespass' on Kinder Scout, the highest point in what is now the Peak District National Park. It garnered huge public support and led to increasing public pressure on government to provide open spaces for everyone to enjoy. However it wasn't until 1951, following the 1950 National Parks Act, that the first National Park was created here in the Peak District.
Funded by you, the tax payer, National Parks have specific purposes that are enshrined in law. In England and Wales they are:
Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage.
Promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of national parks by the public.
National Parks are substantial tracts of land, sometimes remote, with wide open spaces large enough to provide the public with opportunities for outdoor recreation. National Parks are designated because of their landscape quality, wildlife and their values as a recreational resource.
The Park Authorities own very little of the land instead they rely on the compliance of landowners or the use of the legislation created to protect the land to ensure that the landscapes retain their unique and life enhancing qualities.
The UK’s National Parks are oases for wildlife – hosting over 330 conservation projects in 2019/20. They work together as National Parks UK – working in unison for the benefit of nature and people.
The Peak District National Park
Lying in the heart of England it is within an hour's travel for 20 million people situated as it is between Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham and Derby. Therefore it is all the more remarkable that places of serenity and tranquility can still be found all over the park. Cressbrook Dale is one such place.
People fought hard over many decades to earn us the right to enjoy places like Cressbrook Dale and now this most exquisite and precious of Dales is under threat and at a time when its most special qualities are being flagged up as a vital part in a huge conservation project:
James Marshall, Natural England’s Area Manager for the East Midlands said:
“Many species like bees, and butterflies are mobile and can travel a long distance, but they need pollen and nectar in the landscape to attract them to new areas. We have existing habitats at protected SSSIs but the area between is currently lacking the wildflowers needed to attract the migration of species. We are hoping this new nature recovery network will encourage the movement of these species and help populations to grow.”
Over time, the plan is for the nature recovery network to link up existing SSSIs at Wye Valley, Monks Dale, Cressbrook Dale, Topley Pike, Longstone Moor and Deep Dale.
It is in everyone's interests to stand up for places like Cressbrook Dale because if we can't save this most protected of Dales a dangerous precedent will have been set and what will that mean for all the other wild spaces, their flora and fauna and the right for everyone to experience them?
The people of Cressbrook and the surrounding villages, the walkers, cyclists and visitors who have all supported our campaign are very like those who participated in the 'Kinder Mass Trespass' in that we're all passionate about this beautiful place. The crucial difference is that their actions led to the creation of laws and ours are to ensure those same laws are upheld.