[T]esco supermarket shoppers in Catterick Garrison and Northallerton are being given the chance to vote for a cash boost to a major conservation project in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Every year thousands of walkers set out on Alfred Wainwright’s famous Coast to Coast walk from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire, entering the National Park near the cairns of Nine Standards Rigg.
Over the years the sheer number of walkers has badly damaged the peat there, turning the area into a bog.
In partnership with the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which has provided expertise in peatland restoration, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority is aiming to make significant repairs to this damaged section of the Coast to Coast route.
And now the work and two other projects have been picked by Tesco’s Bags of Help initiative, which has teamed up with Groundwork to provide grants – all raised from the 5p bag levy – for environmental and greenspace projects.
Shoppers in the two stores will be given a token to vote for one of the projects from October 31 to November 13. The one with the highest number of votes will receive £12,000, the second placed project £10,000 and the third will have £8,000.
Michael Briggs, the National Park Authority’s Area Ranger for Swaledale, said: “The route crosses large areas of blanket bog and the ground near Nine Standards Rigg is extremely boggy with very little vegetation.
“With no clear path to follow, walkers have found themselves lost and some have even become stuck in the bog.
“The aim of the project is to lay a flagged surface to provide a defined, hard route so that walkers aren’t trampling soft peat or sinking into it and then needing to be rescued.
“Once there is no further footfall on the peat, it will be able to recover. It will then be re-seeded with heather brash to help vegetation to re-establish. Eventually mosses will reappear and the peat will be able to regenerate.”
Nick Cotton, the National Park Authority’s Member Champion for Recreation Management, said: “We are very grateful to the Tesco’s Bags of Help initiative for giving us the chance finally to repair the route over a difficult and remote site. Not only will it be of tremendous benefit to the landscape in terms of revitalising the peat, but it will also be welcomed by the walkers – who won’t have to struggle on this section of the route any more.”
Lindsey Crompton, Head of Community at Tesco, said: “The first round of the Bags of Help initiative was a fantastic success.
“In total 1,170 community groups were awarded £8,000, £10,000 or £12,000 – that’s a massive £11.7 million being invested into local projects.
“We are already seeing some great results from groups transforming their own environmental and greenspace areas.
“We are absolutely delighted to open the voting for round two. There are some fantastic projects on the shortlists and we can’t wait to see them come to life in hundreds of communities.”
Groundwork’s national Chief Executive, Graham Duxbury, said: “Bags of Help is giving our communities both the funding and the support to create better, healthier and greener places for everyone to enjoy.
“We’ve been thrilled to see the diversity of projects that have applied for funding, ranging from outdoor classrooms, sports facilities, community gardens, play areas and everything in between.
“They’re all fantastic projects that make a real difference in our neighbourhoods.
“We’re looking forward to learning the results of the customer vote and then supporting each group to bring their project to life.”