DALES farmers are being asked to consider making their land available for parking and camping during the opening stage of the Tour de France.

Landowners along the route, which takes in Wensleydale, have been in talks with national park rangers over how to ensure this summer’s opening stage of the Tour does not harm fragile landscape and habitats.

Providing parking areas and campsites is seen as one way of helping to achieve this.

Chairman Peter Charlesworth said: “It’s an absolutely huge thing and it has to be planned to the finest detail – everything from litter collection to traffic – if we are to make sure it goes smoothly and with minimum impact on land and wildlife.”

Traffic management plans are being drawn up to accommodate the increased number of vehicles – key to it are car parks and campsites along or near the route.

The authority is keen to hear from farmers and landowners interested in helping.

There have been numerous meetings with village communities and landowners to find out what facilities and events they want.

Following the launch in August of a grant scheme to help communities celebrate ‘Le Grand Depart’, the park authority has agreed £12,000 in grants to help councils cover the cost of tour-related events.

A second round has now been launched to share out the remaining £5,000 and has been extended to include any parish council in the park that has not previously applied.

Mr Charleswowrth said: “The staging of Le Grand Depart is a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase this area to people all over the world with the added bonus that it also coincides with the 60th anniversary of the creation of the national park.

“An estimated 400,000 people are expected to line the route within the national park and it’s a chance for all the businesses and communities to boost their incomes like never before.”