“A golden opportunity”: the national park supports the decentralization agreement

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The proposed devolution deal to transfer powers from Whitehall to North Yorkshire and York presents a “great opportunity” for agriculture, tourism and the environment in the North York Moors National Park, a meeting has heard.

North York Moors National Park Authority chief executive Tom Hind said the protected area will gain a share of additional government funding of £18million a year, as well as opportunities to work with a authority and a mayor combined, the proposed deal represented “good business for York and North Yorkshire”.

The authority had previously signaled its support in principle for a decentralization deal, provided its statutory planning powers are protected.

Mr Hind was speaking at a plenary meeting of the authority ahead of the launch of a consultation next month to consider a range of views on the deal for the region which is home to around 46,000 businesses and a population of approximately 818,000 inhabitants.

Subject to the results of the consultation and feedback to central government, a new combined authority for North Yorkshire and York is expected to be established next autumn, with mayoral elections in May 2024.

He said the agreement would provide opportunities to achieve some of the key objectives set for the national park, and particularly in skills development and sustainable transport.

Mr Hind said the proposed natural capital investment plan, which national park authorities helped develop, as part of the deal, had been “groundbreaking work” to look at the amount of funding needed to improve the environment and achieve net zero carbon emissions. .

Another potential area of ​​the deal for the national park is its support for the BioYorkshire public-private partnership Innovation Clusters program, which is working to transform the region’s economy through high-tech research and translation facilities. quality.

The meeting heard members stress the importance of ensuring that additional funds to develop housing are not only focused on brownfields in urban areas and the urgent need to support and improve public transport in and around the national park.

The park authority’s most senior member, David Jeffels, said that while many upland farmers in the region had struggled for many years, the proposed deal offered “an encouragement in terms of diversification” as well as a potential boost to tourism, upon which the park’s economy relies. also highly dependent.

He said: “This presents us with a golden opportunity to take advantage of what is on offer and turn it to the benefit of the national park.

“Improving the economy in the park is important for the environment and the moors. If we have a thriving and diverse agricultural industry, we hope this will come from better transport links and a more affluent community.

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