New Director Looking Forward to the Challenge in the South Pennines

Posted: 22.03.11

The shift from a regional to a local perspective may offer exciting new opportunities to a rural regeneration partnership that straddles the Pennines, argues its new director.

As Mark Turner settles into his new post as director of Pennine Prospects, the champion of the South Pennines, he views the future with enthusiasm rather than trepidation.

“Yes, things are going to change and there isn’t going to be as much money from government, however the countryside is still valuable, concerns for the environment are not going to go away and people in Manchester and Leeds still want to have somewhere to go; countryside to visit.

“As a society we are going to have to decide how we are to organise things and how we are to pay for them. As an organisation that straddles Lancashire, Yorkshire and Greater Manchester a move to localism may be helpful to Pennine Prospects as we focus on our area; the South Pennines. We have funding through LEADER and the Heritage Lottery Fund until 2014 both excellent programmes on which we can build,” explained Mark, who brings a wealth of knowledge to the role.

With 16 years’ regeneration experience on the internationally recognised Mersey Basin Campaign, a 25-year project to improve the water quality in rivers and waterways and encourage waterside regeneration in the North West, Mark realised the power of partnership building. Working his way from projects officer to deputy chief executive of the campaign Mark then became chief officer at Foundation, a climate fund for the North West which aimed to reduce carbon emissions through energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, gaining working knowledge of community engagement, before working to encourage northern businesses to get involved in the renewable power sector, including off-shore wind; all relevant for the work at Pennine Prospects, he explained.

“The vision I have is one based on sustainable development. We can create a model of sustainable development here that can offer lessons and ideas for other places in the country.

“The landscape and heritage of the South Pennines provide a resource for the people of Manchester and Leeds. The area has many attractions that can match the over-crowded national parks of the Lake District or Peak District.”

Although the South Pennines is the only significant upland area of England without the protection of being a designated national park or an area of outstanding natural beauty Mark does not view this as detrimental.

“I don’t want to expend a lot of time and energy on trying to gain a designation that could instead be spent on promoting the area through the great projects we already have running.”

The projects currently supported through Pennine Prospects range from promoting hydro-electric power to artistic interpretation of the watershed landscape. Pennine Prospects uses the latest technology, from tweets to geo-caching, to link people with the landscape and to their heritage. All the projects have the aim of opening up the South Pennines to the people living in and around the area and those further afield. For example, the Walk, Cycle and Ride Festival in September reaches out to everyone wanting to experience the area on foot, bike or horse-back and with a great network of public transport, canal towpaths and extensive footpaths people can enjoy the wilderness of the moors without getting their cars out of the garage.

For further information contact Mark Turner.

Yorkshire Water United Utilities Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council National Farmers Union
South Pennines Association Lancashire County Council Pennine Heritage Kirklees Council Calderdale Council
Bradford District Council Northern Rail Natural England Environment Agency The National Trust