Public inquiry into Yorkshire Dales National Park expansion welcomed (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Public inquiry into Yorkshire Dales National Park expansion welcomed
A DECISION to examine controversial plans to expand two national parks before a public inquiry has been welcomed.
Minister for the natural environment Richard Benyon said Natural England’s proposals to extend the boundaries of the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District would be examined at a four-week public inquiry in June.
The hearing into the plan, which would increase the park’s combined area by 193 square miles, was triggered after five councils lodged objections.
Mr Benyon told MPs: “Over 3,000 objections, representations or expressions of support were received in response to the proposals, including objections from five local authorities.
“It is a statutory requirement that a public inquiry is held if at least one local authority with land in a proposed extension raises an objection to a relevant variation order.
No venue has yet been announced for a pre-inquiry meeting, which will take place in March.
Following the inquiry the inspector will make recommendations to Environment Secretary Owen Paterson who will decide whether to modify, approve or reject the plans.
A Natural England spokeswoman said it welcomed the public inquiry.
She said: “This is a significant decision and it is important that it is fully and carefully considered.”
Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority member Stuart Parsons said the hearing would enable a national debate.
He said: “A public inquiry will give everyone the chance to have their say whether they are rich or poor, farmers or non farmers, whoever wants to put their views forward, this is the proper forum.”