AN agreement has been reached that will see an iconic piece of Lake District Common land leased to an independent group for the foreseeable future.

Glenridding Common, which is owned by the Lake District National Park Authority, will now be looked after by the John Muir Trust.

Currently based primarily in Scotland, the John Muir Trust will oversee the maintenance of the land, as well as working with tenant farmers and local people to plant trees and reintroduce species of plant in a re-wilding process.

Graham Watson, of the John Muir Trust, said: "We are a UK charity and this is the next logical step for the trust to extend its work into England.

"It is a good engagement opportunity for us, particularly because of the number of visitors. We want people to value a wild place. We think most visitors would see Glenridding Common as as wild place, particularly compared to wheat fields in the east of England.

"We support rewilding, but certainly only in appropriate locations and with the consent of the local community.

"For many reasons Glenridding Common wouldn't be a place to reintroduce predators. It is not big enough and the local community don't want it.

"We hope to plant trees on a small scale in certain areas, and increase the biodiversity, but to do so we would need to reach an agreement with all the key stakeholders."

Mr Watson also confirmed that nothing would change for the tennant farmers who graze the common.

Rob Shepherd, Chair of Patterdale Parish Council, said: "We have every confidence that the John Muir Trust will do an excellent job of managing the common in a way that preserves the unique nature of the environment and ensures its continued benefit for visitors and the local community.

"We firmly believe that the values of the Trust match those of our community and that, as long as there is effective mutual consultation and cooperation, the management of Glenridding Common by the Trust can become a model of effective land stewardship in England."

Richard Leafe, Chief Executive, Lake District National Park said: "At the Lake District National Park’s Authority meeting members agreed to lease Glenridding Common to the charity the John Muir Trust. This follows a period of consultation earlier this year, which gave the community and key stakeholders an opportunity to understand more about the proposal.

"We will now formalise a three-year lease and we are aiming for this to be in place from August 2017."