Parks demand bigger role in UK economy

The North York Moors National Park. Picture: Mike Kipling
The North York Moors National Park. Picture: Mike Kipling
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BRITAIN’s national parks have called for greater recognition of the role they can play in growing the UK economy.

National Parks England, which represents national parks including the North York Moors, Yorkshire Dales and Peak District, wants economic plans to maximise the potential for these areas to create jobs and new businesses rather than just see them as tourist destinations.

Jim Bailey, chairman of both National Parks England and the North York Moors National Park Authority, said: “I’ll be pleased if this initiative raises a few eye-brows from those who think the National Parks are something stuck in a bygone era.

“We need to make more of the thriving businesses found in some of our most beautiful areas of countryside.

“As well as being hugely important for supporting the health of the nation, our National Parks attract exciting entrepreneurs and support the rural economy.

“We need to protect these wonderful places. But that need not be at the expense of giving a strong helping hand to enterprises that rely on a high quality environment for their business model.”

The move was backed by former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine who is a leading figure in the debate over how to encourage economic growth outside London and the South East.

He said: “National Parks are huge national assets that the public value.  They are beautiful places where the environment underpins large swathes of the rural economy.”

According to the last census, one in five of those living in the North York Moors National Park was self employed while the park’s economy is worth more than £360 million.

As a whole, national parks contain 22,500 businesses and have an economy of similar size to Plymouth or Sunderland.