A North Pennines AONB Partnership scheme to bring the area’s geological heritage to life over the next three years has gained National Lottery support
Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the project has gained initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a £406,100 project, as well as a £29,800 development grant.
The award will also go a long way to helping the continuation of the North Pennines’ status as a UNESCO Global Geopark, a designation managed by the AONB Partnership team.
The funding will enable the creation of new IT-based interpretation of geology and landscape, new walking trails, temporary visual artworks, work in schools and new community projects.
AONB Partnership Director, Chris Woodley-Stewart, said: “The North Pennines has a fascinating geological story of ancient tropical seas, vast deserts, moving continents, huge ice sheets, magma and minerals. There’s also a real human story attached to some of this, notably our important lead mining heritage. We’re grateful to HLF, and to National Lottery players, for helping us to keep bringing this heritage to people’s attention and using it to support education, the visitor economy and local people’s enjoyment of the area.”
The North Pennines is one of around 120 places around the world with the prestigious UNESCO Global Geopark designation. UNESCO created its Global Geoparks programme in 2015, placing it on a par with other official UNESCO programmes such as a World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves. There are six others in the UK, including the North West Highlands and part of the Devon Coast. Geoparks are places where world-class geo-heritage is used to support sustainable development, mainly through education and tourism projects.
Chris added: “We have a funding decision pending with Geopark partners to bring around £160,000 of EU funding to match the award from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Alongside the obvious prestige of the UNESCO designation, a pool of readymade project partners is a real advantage and we are hopeful of bringing the EU money in this spring.”
There is a six-month development phase for the project but early next year people can look forward to renewed work to bring this fascinating aspect of the region’s heritage to the fore.