News: July 2022

Arkengarthdale barns makeover; Hawes to Garsdale recreational route; Helping Richmondshire Heat, Eat and Meet; No wolves and lynx under YDNPA nature recovery plan; Osstvaardersplassen; Planning: Local Plan 2023-2040 Consultation no 5 and new sustainability measures; Population statistics for Richmondshire; Rotters: September meeting; Swift boxes and swallow cups: Together for Trees: tree health survey.

Arkengarthdale barns makeover

Two cow houses  have been restored at Low Eskeleth and Whaw by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) and Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust with some of the  funding provided by Alf Wight’s daughter Rosie Page. A panel on Alf Wight (AKA James Herriot) has been installed at Whaw.

Hawes to Garsdale recreational route

The YDNPA is investigating converting the old disused railway line between Hawes and Sedburgh to a multi-user route capable of being used by cyclists, horse riders and walkers.

Helping Richmondshire Heat, Eat and Meet

Several Sustainable Swaledale members contributed to the Richmondshire Climate Action Partnership (RiCAP) event held at Tennants on 1 July 2022. The event covered community support, energy, food, transport and travel. Sustainable Swaledale members provided plants for the grow-your-own-food initiative (see photo above).

No wolves and lynx under YDNPA nature recovery plan

The YDNPA met on 28 June to discuss its draft nature recovery plan, which will become increasingly important as government and private funding for Dales’ landowners and farmers is tied into environmental objectives. The draft strategy includes an increase in woodland from 4.5% to 7% and creating nature recovery areas across 15% of the park.  The emphasis will be on supporting struggling species already in the area rather than re-introducing wolves and lynx. The plan is expected to be finalised next June.


Sustainable Swaledale member Olivia gave us a talk at the last meeting about her experience of running an ecology study at  Osstvaardersplassen, a rewilding site about 20 miles from Amsterdam composed of wetland and woodland habitats on reclaimed land. The project was set up in the 1970s and is  run by Staatsbosbeheer (SBB), a Dutch agency. 

The project introduced Heck cattle and Konic horses to try and replicate the auroch and tarpin which grazed the grasslands thousands of years ago, with the intention of keeping down the willow and maintaining the wetlands to encourage wild birds.  Too much grazing resulted in a loss of trees and animal numbers got too large so the reserve received criticism in 2018 when many animals died of starvation in a hard winter (as reported in a Guardian article). There is now a culling programme to keep animal numbers lower. 

Olivia’s work is yet to be formally verified, but initial indications are that she found fewer saplings than last survey but more biodiversity. Osstvaardersplassen provided valuable lessons for key UK rewilding initiatives such as that at Knepp in Sussex.

Planning: Local Plan 2023-2040 Consultation no 5 and new sustainability measures

The YDNPA has set out its preferred options for the New Local Plan 2023-2040.  Included in the proposals is a requirement that all new housing be for permanent residency; all barn conversions should be for local occupancy use; a requirement for new developments to show climate change adaptations; protection for core Dark Skies areas and a revised target of 50 new houses per year. 

Additionally all planning applications, even for small projects such as extensions, would be required to submit a Sustainability Statement providing evidence of biodiversity net gain and implement biodiversity enhancement measures such as bird boxes, bee bricks; creating holes in fences for small animals; hedgerow enhancements  or planting trees or wildflowers. This is a wider list of options than the current plan. 

The objective is for new development to achieve 20% net biodiversity gain, with tighter protections for habitats, trees, water courses etc. The Sustainability Statement will also need to cover energy, transport, carbon emissions (during construction) and flood and climate mitigation/adaptation. The whole of the NP will be designated a Dark Sky Reserve, with no external lighting permitted in core areas, and only ‘essential’ external lighting in buffer areas for new developments.

Responses sought by 19th August. The consultation document is available on the YDNPA website

Population statistics for Richmondshire

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has published  the 2021 census population data. Richmondshire is one  of only thirteen areas where men outnumber women (51 to 49%) and it is also one of the least  densely populated areas with  38 people per km2 compared to the average of 395 people.  The Guardian reports that Richmondshire has  experienced the highest percentage growth in the share of over-65s in the last 10 years with 23.5% now of pension age (compared with 17.5% 10 years ago) – an increase from  9,076 to 11,700 people and double the 5,481 pension-aged people who lived there in 1981. Source: ONS and Guardian article

Rotters: September meeting

We are hoping to have the Rotters come and talk at the September meeting about their work on composting, reducing waste, reuse and recycling. Watch out for more information.

Swift boxes and swallow cups

Thanks are due to Calvert and Jenkinson, builders, who have installed our first swift box in a Gunnerside property while carrying out renovations. We would love to add more swift boxes as part of building projects so we’re looking for sponsors.

A number of swallow cups have also been installed in Langthwaite as part of the Group’s Swift and Swallows project.  We would like to acknowledge Jocelyn Campbell’s contribution to the project by making the beautiful swallow cups.  Jocelyn passed away recently. She made enormous contributions to nature in the two Dales, including her wonderful books on Swaledale trees and flowers.

Together for Trees: tree health survey

Rob and Joe have visited all the Together for Trees sites planted in the 2021-2022 season to check on the trees. At the time of survey, over 97% of trees were still alive and doing well.

Core Group Meeting

The July meeting will take place on 7th July at 7.00. Please get in touch if you’d like to join us.

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