We have set out how we want to see the Park in 2020 in our Vision:
‘Northumberland National Park Authority will be proactive, innovative and forward-looking, working towards a Park with thriving communities and a sustainable local economy. It will be grounded in its special qualities, including a richness of cultural heritage and biodiversity, a true sense of tranquillity and a distinct character associated with a living, working landscape, in which everyone has an opportunity to understand, enjoy and contribute to those special qualities.’
We use the Vision Statement to help us organise our work and assess our progress.
As the statement emphasises, we believe the future of the Park lies in maintaining and enhancing its special qualities. That includes keeping it as a living, working landscape, so we are working towards:
- Sustainable land use – so people who live in the Park make a good living from the land, while leaving it in a good state for future generations;
- A landscape rich in biodiversity – by protecting the whole range of distinctive habitats, and the species they support, across the Park;
- A rich cultural heritage – valuing traditions while continuing and developing them as part of contemporary culture;
- A true sense of tranquillity – the peace and quiet which are increasingly rare and precious in the rest of the country;
- Opportunities for all to understand and enjoy and contribute to the special qualities – for the benefit of visitors and residents, and because well-informed, enthusiastic people will help to support all our other aims;
- A thriving community and economy – for the benefit of residents and visitors, and to underpin all our other aims.
Northumberland National Park Authority 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 authority sees delivery on these purposes as being inter-linked with the economy. This modern approach does not imply conservation and promoting opportunities to understand and enjoy the 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 Park communities if we see their knowledge, culture and traditions are part of a heritage and as 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 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 were accepted by the government in their response. 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 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 authority to ‘seek to foster the social and economic wellbeing of the local communities’.
Circular 12/96, which implemented the Act, says 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 says: “This ensures 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.”