CONSERVATION charity the Friends of the Lake District has welcomed the nomination of the area to enter the next round on the path to World Heritage Status.

Yesterday, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport(DCMS) said it is inviting the Lake District to prepare a case for the UNESCO World Heritage badge.

Jack Ellerby, policy officer for the Kendal-based charity, said: "Friends of the Lake District, as a member of the Lake District National Park Partnership and the World Heritage Site (WHS) steering group, is delighted that our nomination has been endorsed by the experts advising the government on which areas of the UK merit WHS status.

"The Lake District is a very important cultural landscape, combining natural and man-made features, at the heart of people’s appreciation of landscape and environmental awareness nationally and internationally.

"The landscape we know and love exists thanks to the farmers and others who have worked on the land over the centuries; continued management by them is essential to conserve the landscape and we hope that the WHS status supports their businesses into the future.

"The Lake District National Park is already a well-known attraction, World Heritage Site status would recognise its international value. This reinforces the fact that the high quality of the environment attracts visitors and businesses to the area, leading, we hope, to visitor spending directly supporting caring for the fabric of the landscape.

"There is a lot of work ahead of us to develop the full nomination for January 2016. Working together through the Partnership to secure World Heritage Site status, will mean we can all pull together to make it happen.’

The decision was also welcomed by Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and the Border.

He said: “This is incredibly exciting news and a brilliant opportunity for the Lake District. It is a place of great beauty and it is very important that we protect the cultural heritage, the history and the small family farms. I am delighted that it the independent Expert Group has chosen it for nomination to UNESCO in 2016, confirming and defining what we love.”

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