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Express & Star comment: National park could do us good

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

It is 87 years since protesters invaded the Peak District in an act of mass trespass that would lead to the formation of Britain’s national parks.

Dartmouth Park, in West Bromwich

The incident saw hundreds of ramblers walk on to private land on Kinder Scout in a bid to assert their “right to roam”, and while little was thought of it at the time, it succeeded in bringing the question of public access to rural Britain into focus.

The country now has 15 national parks, including the Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District, Snowdonia, Dartmoor, Pembrokeshire Coast, North York Moors, Exmoor, Northumberland and the Brecon Beacons.

Few would deny the sheer splendour of these areas of natural beauty. They are rightly considered some of Britain’s jewels in the crown, and between them attract millions of visitors each year.

To the surprise – and amusement – of many, the West Midlands has now been earmarked as the site for the country’s 16th national park, with bold plans unveiled that would see new parks and forests created, as well as orchards and lakes.

The proposals would see dozens of miles of cycle routes brought in as part of plans to see the region look to the future by consigning its industrial heritage to the history books.

It is easy to talk down the idea of transforming the conurbation into some sort of green paradise, and there is no doubt that Professor Kathryn Moore’s vision would require a great deal of money, as well as a change in attitudes and perception.

Increasing the number of green spaces in our region would not only enhance people’s lives, it would be a major step in creating the green economy that the West Midlands so desperately needs if it is to thrive.

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We should be tremendously proud of our history, but the West Midlands must look ahead with an eye on real transformation.

There is absolutely no reason why we cannot face the future with a positive outlook.

The framework is already here for us to create a post-industrial revolution.

This region has been at the forefront of positive change in the past, so why sell ourselves short?

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