Brown Cove

Glenridding Common consultation

Update 22 June 2017: 

Read the latest media statement.

Consultation period expired

The consultation period has expired. Find further Information below. We have undertaken a consultation following a decision to consider a proposal to lease Glenridding Common to the John Muir Trust. This comes following a meeting of the Lake District National Park’s Authority on 14 December 2016 when Members agreed to an initial three-month consultation with the community and interested parties. Consultation began on 17 January, to enable people to understand more about this proposal.

We recognise there are a range of people and organisations that have an interest in the future of this part of the Lake District. We will continue our discussions with the two commoners who graze the land, the parish council and representatives from the farming community, as part of the consultation to ensure they are updated at every stage.  

A consultation proforma was used to gather comments on the proposal. Feedback from the consultation will inform Members’ consideration of next steps.  

On this page you will find answers to some of the questions currently being asked about the proposal.

1. Why are you proposing to lease Glenridding Common to the John Muir Trust?

As a National Park Authority we have a duty to ensure we fully explore all options for managing the land we own, which amounts to just under four per cent of the Lake District. We must also ensure livelihoods are protected and the land is safeguarded for the future. However, as a public body with limited resources, we recognise there may be alternative organisations that could continue to improve and enhance the special qualities of the land.

We invited a wide range of organisations, landowners and other stakeholders to a meeting in September 2014 where we shared our plans to review all our property holdings in the National Park. Following this, we welcomed approaches from organisations, including the John Muir Trust, who wished to discuss specific properties.

Through our discussions with the John Muir Trust, we are confident that they could care for and improve the environmental quality of Glenridding Common, should they be given a lease to manage the land. They also recognise that cultural heritage of the common, including farming practices, is unique and a key part of the Lake District’s bid to be a World Heritage site. They have already shown a desire to involve the community in the management of the land, which is reflected in their early communications with the two commoners and participation in the consultation.

2. What will happen to the commoners who graze the land?

The concentration of common land and unique farming heritage are key special qualities of the Lake District. As a registered common, neighbouring farmers have a right to graze the land. These rights are protected by law and therefore the two commoners who currently graze would continue to do so. Any changes to the management of Glenridding Common would need the support of the commoners and community before gaining the necessary consent of the Secretary of State for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs. In addition, the common is currently subject to a 10 year Higher Level Stewardship scheme, to 2023, which determines grazing levels and other types of management activity.

John Muir Trust has already demonstrated its intention to work collaboratively by meeting and discussing the proposal with the two commoners and the parish council, farming community and other stakeholders as required.

3. Would this change the environmental protections currently in place?

Glenridding Common benefits from the highest environmental designations as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in addition to being within a national park. These protections would remain in place and a change of management would not affect the status of the common.

4. What will you do to safeguard the future of the sheep flocks?

Upland sheep farming is part of the Lake District’s rich cultural farming heritage. The collaborative management of common land by commoners is protected by law as well as being recognised as one of the Outstanding Universal Values of the Lake District in the current bid for World Heritage status. In addition there is a Higher Level Stewardship scheme in place which sets out management requirements for the common.

Our approach, set out in the Lake District National Park Partnership’s plan, is to secure the right balance of land use, in the right place, working with communities, farmers, land owners and managers.  For Glenridding Common, this means protecting the culture of hill farming and commons management, whilst improving the environment to deliver additional benefits such as flood risk reduction, access and recreation. Should the John Muir Trust take on the management of the common, we would work with them and other stakeholders to secure this.

5. Why can’t the National Park continue to manage the land?

We have a duty to consider whether an alternative organisation could manage and improve Glenridding Common, whilst ensuring livelihoods are protected. Through initial discussions, it is clear this is also the aspiration of the John Muir Trust.

As part of the proposal taken to LDNP Authority meeting in December 2016, John Muir Trust committed to share a draft management plan as part of the consultation between January and April 2017.  

6. What’s the timescale?

There are a range of people and organisations who have an interest in the future of this part of the Lake District. To allow people to understand more about the proposal a three month consultation took place from 17 January to 17 April 2017 with the community and a range of stakeholders.

7. How long is the proposed lease for?

The proposed lease is for an initial period of three years. We believe this will give both organisations time to fully explore the potential for the land and for John Muir Trust to build a working relationship with the community at Glenridding. As part of the consultation, we are open to suggestions as to whether a different leasing arrangement may be appropriate.

8. Will there be a cost saving for the Lake District National Park?

There will be both a cost and labour saving to the Lake District National Park by not managing the land. Savings would be invested elsewhere within the National Park, including park management resources which would be used to support flood recovery work following Storm Desmond in 2015.

9. What is the size of the area in question?

Glenridding Common is on the western side of Ullswater in the east of the Lake District National Park. The LDNP has owned and managed Glenridding Common since 1977.

The area in question is in two parts.

  1. approximately 800 hectares purchased in 1977 for the purposes of maintaining nature conservation interests and providing access land
  2. approximately 200 hectares of land, also purchased in 1977, for the same purposes but in joint and indivisible ownership with the National Trust.

The property includes the summit of Helvellyn along with Striding Edge and Swirral Edge, however it does not include the Scheduled Ancient Monument of Greenside Mine which will continue to be managed by the National Park.

Glenridding Common map

10. What consultation have you undertaken?

We began early discussions with the two commoners who graze the land ahead of the proposal being taken the Lake District National Park Authority meeting in December 2016. We have also engaged with key stakeholders, the Parish Council and representatives from the farming community, to ensure they are updated at every stage.

The consultation took place from January to April 2017, providing an opportunity to share information about the proposed changes with all interested parties. The findings from the consultation will be taken back to Authority and shared with Members in order to inform their decision.

11. Are there other organisations interested in caring for the land?

We invited a wide range of organisations, landowners and other stakeholders to a meeting in September 2014 where we shared our plans to review our property holdings in the National Park. Following this, we welcomed approaches from organisations, including the John Muir Trust, who wished to discuss specific properties.

Other than as part of the consultation, we aren’t currently talking to any other organisations about the management of Glenridding Common.

12. Will this affect the World Heritage bid?

We don’t believe that this leasing arrangement will impact on the World Heritage bid. The lease gives all parties involved time to consult and explore the opportunities available and to ensure that any arrangements for the future management of Glenridding Common will be consistent with the attributes which underpin the bid for World Heritage inscription for the Lake District.

13. Who is the John Muir Trust?

The John Muir Trust is a registered charity, based in Scotland with UK-wide membership and activities. It owns and manages major upland properties in Scotland, including Ben Nevis and parts of the Cuillin ranges on Skye. The Lake District National Park has successfully supported and run the John Muir Award, an environmental engagement initiative, for the past six years, increasing awareness about wild places and the importance to conserve them.

Find out more on the John Muir Trust website

14. What does the John Muir Trust plan to do with Glenridding Common?

The John Muir Trust recognises the unique cultural heritage of Glenridding Common and has indicated a long-term aspiration for caring for the land.

John Muir Trust has outlined priorities as:

  • Consulting stakeholders, in particular local interests, to develop future plans
  • Maintaining and encouraging public access to Helvellyn
  • Using the property as base for volunteering activity where local people, including school pupils and other learners, can gain valuable conservation experience
  • Gradually working towards a richer and more diverse landscape, where wildlife can thrive alongside trees, whilst respecting the needs of graziers

Find out more about the John Muir Trust's draft land management plan.

15. Does the John Muir Trust have a land management plan for Glenridding Common?

From our initial conversations with John Muir Trust, we understand they take a long-term approach to land management, and they have indicated a long-term aspiration for managing and caring for Glenridding Common.

In addition to the priorities outlined above, the John Muir Trust will submit a draft land management plan. However, we understand they intend to seek the opinions of the commoners and community on the future use and direction of the land in order to fully develop their plan. They took part in the consultation by sharing information and providing an opportunity to engage with those interested in the future management of the land.

16. Does this mean the John Muir Trust will want to rewild Glenridding Common?

We understand the John Muir Trust recognises rewilding to incorporate a wide spectrum of approaches and is often misinterpreted and taken to mean the reintroduction of large carnivores, which would not be appropriate here. They do however believe there may be some opportunities to build on existing initiatives to include limited woodland replanting but would want to take full input on this from interested parties before doing so and would be aiming to do it by agreement. Their management plan for the site will expand on these ideas.