Our object is not only to help conserve and enhance the landscape, biodiversity and cultural heritage of the Dales and adjacent areas, but also to promote the sustainable social and economic well-being of the local communities. This is particularly significant in the light of climate breakdown, declining biodiversity, environmental impacts of land uses, unsustainable forms of tourism and the decline of rural areas as viable places for quality jobs, affordable housing and services such as schools and public transport.
We accept the definition of sustainable development set out in the Brundtland Report Our Common Future as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
As part of our efforts to achieve sustainable socio-economic development we strongly support the primary, statutory, national park purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and adjacent areas.
We support the second statutory purpose of promotion of opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of national parks, but acknowledge the importance of the Sandford Principle: “Where conservation and public enjoyment cannot be reconciled by skilful management, conservation should be given priority.” We agree with the 2019 Glover Review that the second purpose “needs to be re-interpreted and qualified because … excessive or unsuitable use may destroy the very qualities which attract people to the parks”.
We are mindful of the precautionary principle, understanding that landscape, wildlife and cultural heritage are valuable in their own rights, and that our actions today are tomorrow’s legacy. All decisions have consequences, and those proposing a change are responsible for demonstrating that there will be no negative effects on the environment.
We support the principles of sustainable tourism as defined by the UN World Tourism Organisation (UN-WTO) in 1988: “Sustainable tourism meets the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunity for the future. It is envisaged as leading to management of all resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and life-support systems.”
Whilst agriculture has the greatest impact on the quality of the landscape, tourism is more significant in the Dales in terms of income generation, with other businesses and activities being relatively minor players. Currently, tourism functions largely on a high carbon/low wage basis, with high levels of seasonal and under-employment, lack of proper career structures and over-reliance on private cars for access.
A sustainable Dales community would see itself as existing within a physical environment and natural ecosystem and trying to find ways to coexist with that environment. It would play its part by avoiding degradation of the air, fresh water and other natural systems. It would replace detrimental practices with those that allow ecosystems to renew themselves continuously.
In a sustainable community the resources and opportunities would be available to everyone, regardless of ethnicity, age, gender, cultural background, religion, or other characteristics. A sustainable community would not deplete its resources, destroy natural systems, or pass along unnecessary hazards to future generations. A diverse sustainable economy would not easily be disrupted by events or disasters, and would not simply shift the costs of maintaining its good health elsewhere. It would not remain reliant on high and ever-increasing consumption, or non-renewable resources.
- We support the preparation of a detailed park-wide strategy for sustainable socio‑economic development based on cooperation and a willingness to put the environment first.
- We believe that the availability of better-paid employment in environmentally sustainable activities would help to address the declining and ageing population demographic.
- We support the view that a viable local economy includes good job and career opportunities, profitable businesses that raise sufficient tax revenue to support good government, a suitable business climate and the provision of reliable infrastructure and services where these can be achieved without detriment to the environment.
- We do not believe that, in order to ensure prosperity of local people and businesses, a continued growth of tourism is necessary. By shifting the market focus to locally provided products and services and by working with the unique opportunities and experiences in the national park, new and existing businesses can experience good profitability and prosperity.
What we will do
- We will encourage local and other authorities to adopt strategic plans for developing environmentally sound businesses that will improve the socio-economic well-being of residents whilst protecting and enhancing the environment. Such plans must be based on socio-economic analyses that address the natural, social and cultural assets of the national park.
- We will liaise closely with influencers, both in local authorities and the business communities, to encourage appropriate and sustainable economic activities. We will encourage increased financial investment (seed money, investment for growth) and investment in human capital.
- We will make our voice heard to influence the formulation of the next Local Plan and intend to be closely involved in the preparation of the National Park Management Plan to ensure that both address the need for a sustainable socio-economic development strategy.
- We will support frequent regular contacts between the National Park Authority and the business community to develop practical ways of achieving more sustainable businesses. A park-wide business forum would offer opportunities to meet and assist in decision‑making.
- We will advocate the creation of a full-time national park post for dealing with sustainable socio-economic development through secondment or joint funding between the National Park Authority and the authorities responsible for economic development in the area.
- We will encourage efforts to make farming in the Dales more environmentally sustainable. In particular, we will support the concepts of high-value nature farming and the payment for an environmental benefits approach.
- Judging by the success of protected-area branding across Europe, we will support the greater promotion of a national park brand.
- We will encourage improvement of public transport networks, and projects that encourage the use of public transport and/or the reduction of private-car use.
- We will support proposals that reduce the use of fossil fuels, single-use plastics or other inappropriate activities.
- In our responses to strategic and development control matters, we will press for sustainability to be considered at all times, in particular:
- We will resist proposals that have significant negative impacts on biodiversity, the landscape, our cultural heritage, or access to the countryside, and those that reduce the quality of life of local people.
- We will support developments and projects that focus on the enhancement of biodiversity and the protection of landscape quality.
- We will not support proposals that generate significantly more road traffic, especially on minor roads. We will encourage good spatial planning with emphasis on key service centres and public transport to reduce travel needs.
- We will welcome new business initiatives that generate good-quality well-paid jobs without impacting on the environment.
- We will encourage promotion of the digital economy, the creative industries and other sectors, many of which lend themselves to working from home.
- We will welcome the extension of reliable infrastructure such as mobile and broadband coverage across all areas, which must be provided without harm to the landscape.
Policy Statement published July 2020