ANDY Tickle, Director of the Friends of the Peak District’s National Park, aimed to prove that this park is Britain’s finest in a talk to Holme Valley Civic Society.
The Friends, the National Park’s group of supporters, was set up in Sheffield in 1924 because the lack of planning laws at the time was a major concern.
Later the Friends joined the Council for the Preservation of Rural England whose aims were similar to their own and also became part of the Campaign for National Parks.
The Peak District National Park, with 22 million visitors a year, is one of the most visited of British National Parks. Some people are attracted to it because of the old villages with their local customs, including well dressing, or they come for cultural reasons to visit historic buildings such as Haddon Hall. Others go to see the peregrine falcons or the red deer and there are those who love the opportunities for climbing which the Park provides.
Thirty-eight thousand people live in the Peak District National Park, a tranquil place for urban dwellers. A quarter of the inhabitants are employed in tourism, another quarter in either farming or quarrying, a fifth in manufacturing and the rest in clerical work.
The Peak District is the most quarried national park in the world with about 30 quarries producing mainly limestone, but also gritstone for building.
Part of the work of the Friends is looking at planning applications which they may support or, if not, they write letters of objection to the local authority. They believe that climate change is the biggest threat to both the precious countryside and national parks and they support renewable energy as the best solution to the problem. They campaign against developments which threaten the Peak District’s beauty and tranquility and support affordable homes, sustainable jobs and local services. They also support and advise businesses wishing to develop their buildings or property in a sustainable way and they work to balance the needs of the local economy, the communities and local landscapes.
Andy Tickle listed certain highlights in the Friends’ history.
In the 1930s and 1940s, when there were no planning laws, they purchased land which was given to the National Trust and at this time too, the boundaries of the future National Park were mapped.
In 1951 the Peak District became Britain’s first National Park. Campaigning in the 1970s saved the National Park from having a motorway built through it and more recent successes were concerned with the removal of ugly electricity poles and wires, saving part of the Park from devastating or illegal quarrying and securing £500 million to get rid of pylons in national parks.
The work goes on. The Friends remain vigilant to prevent the relaxing of planning laws and the positioning of too many turbines of different heights and they continue to support affordable housing for farming families. Practical conservation is the aim of all they do.
The next indoor meeting of Holme Valley Civic Society will take place at 7.30pm on Thursday September 19 in Holmfirth Civic Hall when Neil Atkinson, Head of News at the Huddersfield Examiner, will talk about his life in journalism.
The first of the society’s summer walks will take place on Thursday June 20 when Deborah Wyles will lead a two-hour walk leaving the Bay Horse, Hade Edge at 7pm. All are welcome to these events.