English National Parks contribute between £4.1-£6.3bn to the economy through economic activity in their boundaries – equivalent to the UK aerospace industry, according to a new report Valuing England’s National Parks, published today, May 23, 2013.
More than 50% of people in England live within an hour’s travel of a National Park and the benefits of National Parks extend beyond their boundaries.
In the North East, Northumberland National Park alone contributes £81 million to the North East regional economy from within its boundary, and influences the contribution of £166 million including the settlements along its boundary margins. This value comes from direct investment in the Park and the economic activity generated by tourism, farming and local community and business enterprises.
This figure is set to rise by a further £3.5 million from 2016, when the National Park’s new Landscape and Discovery Centre project at Hadrian’s Wall, The Sill, begins operation.
The report published by National Parks England shows the importance of National Parks, not just as iconic landscapes and part of our national identity, but as thriving rural economies contributing to national prosperity and enhancing our wellbeing through their stewardship of clean water, stunning landscapes, wildlife, tranquillity and heritage.
Over 90 million people visit the English National Parks each year. Visitors to the English National Parks spend at least £4bn, contributing about one third of the spend from rural tourism in England, with the value of tourism in the Northumberland National Park being £66 million in 2011, with this figure increasing to £151 million in the immediate surrounding areas which serve the Park.
Some six million people live within an hour’s drive of the Northumberland National Park and can share its benefits and yet it costs the public purse just £2.7 million a year to run.
In England there are around 22,500 businesses in the 10 National Parks with a combined turnover of £10.4bn employing 140,000 people. In Northumberland, the National Park Authority actively supports community and business initiatives in and around the park. In the past five years the three funds including NNPA Action Area Fund, the Sustainable Development Fund and Northumberland Uplands Leader Fund have assisted 495 projects with £3.5 million grant aid and have drawn in over £8 million of match funding, thus boosting the overall economic impact of the national park.
As well as direct financial contributions to the local economy, the National Park provides environmental services that benefit the people of the region. Northumberland’s upland water sources are the cleanest in the country and provide drinking water to communities far and wide. 50 million tonnes of carbon are locked into the peat soils of the National Park’s extensive mires, heather moorlands and woodlands. This is the equivalent of 42% of England’s entire CO2 emissions for one year or the average annual emissions from 6.6 million households.
Environment Minister Richard Benyon MP said: “Our National Parks are the most treasured places in the country. More than 90 million people visit them each year, helping to boost economic growth in rural areas. The (Valuing England’s National Parks ) report highlights the value of these areas in promoting tourism and contributing to the UK economy.”
Speaking for Northumberland National Park Authority, chairman John Riddle added: “National Parks represent exceptional value for the environment and for the public purse as the new national report explains. The North East is lucky to have its own beautiful place and valuable asset in Northumberland National Park.”