Yorkshire Dales National Park rangers meet farmers to limit Tour damage

Craven Herald: Next year's Tour de France will include the Yorkshire Dales Next year's Tour de France will include the Yorkshire Dales

National park rangers are meeting with landowners and farmers along the route of next year’s Tour de France.

Staff and members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority are keen to make sure the event, which is due to come though the park over two days in the summer, will not damage the fragile landscape and important wildlife habitats.

And with only seven months to go before the arrival of the world’s largest sporting event, there have already been numerous meetings with village communities and landowners to find out what facilities and events they want to stage.

Following the launch in August of a grant scheme to help communities celebrate the Grand Depart, the park authority has agreed £12,000 in grants to help parish councils cover the cost of tour-related events.

A second round has now been launched to share out the remaining £5,000 and has been extended to include any parish council in the park that has not previously submitted an application.

National park authority chairman Peter Charlesworth said: “The staging of the Grand Depart is a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase this amazing area to people all over the world with the added bonus that it also coincides with the 60th anniversary of the creation of the national park.

“An estimated 400,000 people are expected to line the route within the national park and for all the businesses and communities it’s a chance to boost their incomes like never before.”

He added that the authority was pulling out all the stops to encourage those people to visit the park again once the Tour had long gone.

“It’s an absolutely huge thing to happen and it has to be planned to the finest detail – everything from litter collection to traffic – if we are to make sure it goes smoothly and has a minimum impact on the land and the wildlife.

“That means we are working closely with parish, district and county councils, the emergency services and all the other organisations and groups that have a stake in the national park.”

In addition, traffic management plans are being drawn up to accommodate the increased number of vehicles. Key to this are car parks and campsites along or near the route, and the authority is keen to hear from anyone who is interested in running one on their land.

Earlier this year, the national park launched a revamped Cycle the Dales website for cyclists and visitors wanting to explore the national park on two wheels ahead of next year’s event.

The website at cyclethedales.org.uk contains a range of routes, downloadable maps and descriptions and information about classic hill climbs and the Tour itself.

The authority has also been helping cafes, hotels and bed and breakfasts and tourist attractions to offer bike-friendly facilities such as free bike stands and bike rings and free cycle repair kits.

David Butterworth, chief executive of the national park, said it was a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the park.

“Its the world’s largest annual sports event, it’s entirely free for spectators and it’s coming through our dales, towns and villages.

“We hope as many people as possible really enjoy the Tour de France weekend and it is our intention to do all we can to make that the case.”

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