Peak District Economy, Sustainable Yet Dynamic.

The Peak District National Park Authority is aware that the best way to build the economy of the Peak District as well as the best way to sustain it in the future is through making sure it is agile in regards to change, as well as making sure it is sustainable.  This is an area which the Park Authority has invested in heavily and features highly on the parks management plan.

Most of the businesses within the Peak District benefit both directly and indirectly through the parks unique location in the centre of the UK, as well as the Park’s environmental assets.  These environmental assets are various and include the parks special landscapes.  Studies conducted in 2008 reinforced this point highlighting the fact that the parks landscapes add around £135 million to the regional economy.  The Park Authority not only wishes to see this figure of benefits to the greater community maintained but would like to see it increased by actively getting involved with businesses. 

The first of the factors that contribute to the Park are those that directly surround land usage.  These consist of economic activity generated though food production on the Peak Districts land.  The authority therefore wishes to encourage farmers to continue producing their products in a way which promotes and contributes to the special qualities of the park.  Farming’s contribution to the park in regards to shaping the park is also something that has been noted, and farming has helped build the Peak Districts unique landscape in regards to dry stone walls and grasslands.  Farming is also one of the largest contributors to the parks economy employing over 3500 people, which makes up 18.5% of total employment in the national park.

One of the most important factors regarding the Peak District’s economy is the fact that the economy is diverse and does not rely on one single sector for all of its income.  As a whole however the parks economy is based on several industries which include, farming, land management, accommodation providers, and manufactures.  Most of the businesses engaged in these areas of business are very small in nature, and around 75% employ five people or less.  Of all businesses in the park around 25% are what the authority describes as invisible and provide knowledge opposed to the production of products.  These businesses are some of the most crucial in regards to the parks objectives as they help visitors to the park understand the special qualities of the Peak District.  All of the industries however are reliant to a degree on tourism which contributes over £356 million per year to the parks economy, supporting around 7000 jobs.

Although the majority of goods produced by landowners have a market price and are sold, ie meat, vegetables, or the direct proceeds from paid land usage such as camping, a number have less obvious benefits and values.  These include what are known as environmental goods.  Environmental goods include the production of clean drinking water, the storage of carbon as well as the generation of renewable electricity.  Land owners within the park often have a direct effect upon environmental goods, such as by managing river basins, which reduce flood risks, improve water quality, and help absorb carbon through moorland, grassland and woodland management.  One of the Peak District authorities most ambition aims is to try and capture the value of these environmental goods in order to reward those producing them.  This will encourage the continued production of such environmental goods improving both the Peak District as well as the surrounding area.

The final area in which the Park Authority aims to increase the sustainability of business within the park is through promoting what is known as a green economy.  A green economy is one that understands that the Peak Districts natural landscapes are the largest assets for businesses within the park, and therefore ensures that such landscapes are protected.  The authority therefore wishes to highlight to businesses the value of looking after the Peak District’s natural surroundings, in regards to commercial benefits through increased tourism. 

The final aspect of the green economy centres on land usage.  Quarrying still provides a significant number of jobs for several local communities in the Peak District, though has a significant detrimental impact on the national park due to the scars left in the land, as well as the unsustainable nature of quarrying.  The National Park authority recognises that quarrying is relied upon heavily by certain communities though wishes to expand jobs in other areas deemed sustainable, as the quarrying licenses run out in the next few years.