Northumberland National Park has purposes laid out in law. These relate to conserving and enhancing the special qualities of the area and promoting opportunities to enjoy it. The National Park Authority sees the delivery on these purposes inter-linked with the economy. This modern approach does not imply that conservation and promoting opportunities to understand and enjoy the National Park are any less valid but aims to show how National Parks might rise to society's new challenges.
Today, in describing our purpose of promoting opportunities for understanding and enjoyment we add social inclusion and the interdependence of town and country. In promoting conservation we seek to emphasise that as living landscapes there is a mutual dependence of environment, community and economy; the essential principles of sustainable development. We can also see how better to achieve new life and greater security for National Park communities if we see that their knowledge, culture and traditions are part of a heritage and the social capital for rural development.
We all need to adopt new ways of working if our goal of sustainable development is to be achieved. The National Park Management Plan sets out not only what we consider needs to be done, but our own action and that of our partners. We also need to influence decisions taken elsewhere that affect this National Park and its community.
In early 1990 a review of National Park Authorities was chaired by Professor Ron Edwards. The Review Panel produced a report "Fit for Future" and the main recommendations from the review were accepted by the government in their response to Fit for Future. The legislative changes were made in the 1995 Environment Act.
Section 61 of The Environment Act (1995) updated the two purposes of National Park designation:
- Conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the National Park;
- Promoting opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of (the) areas by the public.
Section 62 of The Environment Act (1995) relates to the application of National Park Purposes.
It places a duty on the National Park Authority to 'seek to foster the social and economic well being of the local communities'.
Circular 12/96, which implemented the Act, explains that this is not a purpose and we must do so only in pursuit of the twin purposes; in co-operation with those who themselves have rural development purpose and without significant expenditure.
Section 62 of the Environment Act (1995) also places a duty on all public bodies and public utilities to have regard to the purposes of designation in carrying out their work.
Circular 12/96 explains that 'This ensures that they take account of Park purposes when coming to decisions or carrying out their activities relating to or affecting land within the Parks. Relevant authorities will be expected to be able to demonstrate that they fulfilled their duty. They will wish to consider whether they could usefully make reference to it in their annual reports. It may sometimes be the case that the activities of certain authorities outside a National Park may have an impact within the Park. In such cases it will be important to ensure mutual co-operation across Park boundaries, particularly in planning and highway matters.'