AN ‘alternative national park’, which covers swathes of Bury and Bolton, has been launched.
Spanning 460 square miles over parts of Greater Manchester, Yorkshire and Lancashire, South Pennines Park will be home to approximately 660,000 residents.
The park will cover areas residents traditionally know as the West Pennines, like Tottington and Ramsbottom, and in the other direction Egerton, Winter Hill, Smithills and the edge of Horwich.
The ambitious scheme aims to bring people closer to nature and boost resources for the local area.
Organisers say the park will have a flexible, unique operating model for managing the landscape, which will give people a significant voice. This new model is the first of its kind in the UK.
Helen Noble, chief executive of Pennine Prospects, on the soon-to-be named South Pennines Park, said: “The need for a park was absolutely clear because the South Pennines Park region needs a champion at national level to fight for it, protect it and seek sustainable investment.”
She added: “Over eight million people live within 30 minutes of the park and more than 660,000 live in it — twice the population of all the English national parks put together.
“It is an area of stunning scenery; a spectacular ever-evolving landscape that has been moulded and shaped by the people, the packhorses, footsteps of yesteryear; rich in industrial and cultural heritage.”
The proposal for the national park was first discussed in the Hobhouse and Dower Reports in the 1940s, which emphasised the need for special places and for the public to look after them.
Eighty years on from these initial discussions, this development is said to represent a key milestone for the North West. North West.
The scheme is being established by Pennine Prospects, together with local authorities, Natural England, United Utilities, Yorkshire Water, the National Trust, transport providers and other communities and conservation groups.
Mrs Noble added: “To get to this stage we have brought together communities, public and privates sector bodies and other stakeholders. Together we have a shared vision for the park and we are all committed to working together champion the area. Without the park, each body is left to compete for funding.”