Project Manager, Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust
Farming and funding
There are huge issues about farming - farming around here is now uneconomical. Do we pay farmers to keep farming the land or what? Do we let people move off and the landscape fall apart? In the short term, we at the Trust are trying to do something, at least on a small scale, by raising funds from the very people who love the Dales - people from all over the country, all over the world - who want to put something back. By fundraising from them and then spending the money in the Dales on these landscape features and on community buildings and so on, first they get a great sense of putting something back and second, we actually do something practical about the problem.
Farming in crisis
Anybody would have to had their head buried in the sand the last few years not to realise that farming is in a difficult situation and particularly hill farming in an area like this - what we call marginal farming. At the best of times, its a hard life, and people round here who farm work very hard. They live a lifestyle that most of us wouldnt put up with, frankly - just the hours and the sheer effort. They make relatively little money and lately, even less. Frankly, if it wasnt for the subsidy systems, the subsidy for the number of sheep, you just couldnt live and with farm prices falling, its just got more difficult. To the point where people wonder "Can people carry on farming?". I dont personally know of any body gone to the wall - people gone bankrupt and had to leave - but a lot of people are very close.
Problems caused by cars
The villages around here just werent built to have cars in them - the roads are narrow, the streets in the villages tend to be cobbled. Theres a lack of parking spaces and just the sheer number of cars going up and down the roads.
Local views on tourists
Tourists are viewed in two lights, really, within the Dales. Obviously theres a lot of local people who make money out of the tourists - you know, the people who are running the Bed and Breakfasts, the hotels and the shops and so on. They directly benefit from tourists and who if you asked them about tourists would probably say "The more the merrier". Those of us who live in the villages perhaps see the other side as well, you know, the number of cars parked all over the villages, and those of us who are involved in countryside management see the erosion caused by so many millions of people using the footpaths and so on. So in two lights, Id say.
Funding conservation projects
The landscape of the Yorkshire Dales is world famous for aspects of the farm scenery. The dry stone walls - there are thousands of kilometres of dry stone walls here - there are six thousand barns in the dales, of which we think about thousand are in a state of dereliction. So thats the first thing - spending money on the landscape features like repairing the walls and the barns. And planting trees - theres a desperate lack of trees in the Dales. Most of the woodlands have been lost and the ones that are here are in a pretty poor state - so a lot of our money goes on tree-planting.