The South Pennines is a dynamic place with opportunities for everyone, especially if we all work together, was the message from the Pennine Prospects’ Annual Conference

Posted: 20.10.14

Over 100 delegates descended on The Shay, Halifax for Pennine Prospects’ Annual Conference, ‘The South Pennines: the green roots of our prosperity’ to hear inspirational speakers from Scotland, the Yorkshire Dales and closer to home. Delegates were welcomed by Councillor Stephen Baines, Leader of Calderdale Council.

The rural regeneration company’s chair, Pam Warhurst, told the packed room: “We have to create opportunities for young people to get work here; we have to make sure we have ‘sticky money’, money that stays in the local economy.

“But we’re not starting from scratch. Here, in the South Pennines, where we have a quality landscape accessible to millions, we already have strong partnerships. We want to build on those and create new ones, with the areas bordering the South Pennines, and beyond, including transnational partnerships. We can all learn from each other.”

Peter Ross, the chair of the Dumfries and Galloway Local Action Group, spoke of the challenges of trying to entice young people back into his rural area. Home to 40% of Scotland’s livestock and with a population of only 150,800, an average of only 23 people per square kilometre, the group is working hard to create links between communities many miles apart.

The Yorkshire Dales faces different challenges, explained Gary Smith, director of conservation and community at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. The Dales only has 20,000 permanent residents but an influx of over five million tourists each year. There are pressures on limited housing stock and a dearth of health services and other facilities for the ageing population.

Clifton Bain, director of International Union for Conservation of Nature UK Peatland Programme, explained the vital importance of the UK’s 2.7 million hectares of peatland, 80% of which is damaged. He made the business case for private companies and public organisations to invest in the restoration of this vital resource as a carbon store, a haven for wildlife and valuable water catchment area.

Sixteen-year old Nathan Greenwood, member of the Worth Valley Young Farmers, shared his experiences of working on the Fields of Vision Project, working with artists and his fellow young farmers to create field-sized land art on the route of the Grand Depart, when the Tour de France came to Yorkshire this summer. He was an inspirational spokesperson for the project and for young people working and living in the South Pennines.

Following lunch the delegates joined one of three workshops: Working Woodlands, Living Waterways and There’s Money in them there Mills. As throughout the conference the overall theme of the workshops was to find ways of creating prosperity within the South Pennines; how to invest in the people as well as the landscape.

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