England's National Parks are open for business - spread the word

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19 January 2015

National Parks – famous for their beauty and splendour are also home to thousands of thriving businesses. And now the National Park Authorities (NPAs) that are charged with managing the Parks, are teaming up with local businesses to ensure they flourish and grow into the future.

National Parks England [1] is today (Monday) publishing an Offer to the network of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) [2] that Government established to spearhead economic growth and employment. The Offer signals an intention to unlock the potential of National Parks to deliver sustainable economic growth.

The Offer [3] has attracted support from senior figures including Lord Heseltine – champion of the devolution agenda [4], and Defra Minister Lord de Mauley. It aims to draw on the unique strengths of the National Park Authorities to work in partnership with LEPs to:

  • Create more high quality jobs in some of the most remote rural areas
  • Make National Parks even better places to do business in through improved
  • infrastructure like broadband and skills development
  • Use the National Parks' superb landscapes to enhance people's quality of life and attract new businesses.

Already, England's National Parks are major power-houses for the rural economy.

  • They contain 22,500 businesses. 
  • They generate up to £6.3bn GVA, equivalent to that of the UK aerospace industry, or a small city such as Plymouth or Sunderland.
  • The 90m visitors to National Parks and surrounding areas each year spend more than £4 billion and support 68,000 full time equivalent jobs. That's a third of all rural tourism spend in the country.
  • The National Parks have a higher proportion of self-employed people than the country as a whole (19% compared to 10%).

Lord Heseltine, said:

"National Parks are huge national assets that the public value. They are beautiful places where the environment underpins large swathes of the rural economy. I welcome the lead being taken by National Parks in working alongside Local Enterprise Partnerships and local businesses to enhance the nation's wealth. Delivering high quality jobs, prosperity, and a high quality environment together is a Government priority. So I welcome this closer working to support our rural communities."

Chair of National Parks England and the North York Moors National Park Authority, Jim Bailey said:

"I'll be pleased if this initiative raises a few eyebrows from those who think the National Parks are something stuck in a bygone era. We need to make more of the thriving businesses found in some of our most beautiful areas of countryside. As well as being hugely important for supporting the health of the nation, our National Parks attract exciting entrepreneurs and support the rural economy. We need to protect these wonderful places. But that need not be at the expense of giving a strong helping hand to enterprises that rely on a high quality environment for their business model. Our message is National Parks are open for business."

Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minister, Lord de Mauley added:
"As well as offering stunning scenery, our National Parks support a wide range of businesses, contribute to the rural economy and are a home to thriving communities. This new initiative will help encourage further economic growth whilst ensuring our valued countryside remains protected."

Chief Executive Officer of the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership [5], Ron Crank said:

"The LEPs and England's National Parks have a real opportunity to work together to unlock the potential of National Parks to deliver sustainable economic growth that benefits both the local communities and these high-quality environments.

For example Coast to Capital and the South Downs National Park Authority have developed a strong working partnership and are already looking at development around sustainable tourism, food and drink production and other business support opportunities. We think this is a real opportunity to help secure the future of this important environment and its vibrant communities through exciting and appropriate economic growth."


1. National Parks England is the umbrella organisation that brings together the nine National Park Authorities (NPAs) and the Broads Authority. It exists to support policy and practice by providing a collective voice for the views of the English NPAs; raising the profile of their work; facilitating discussion on issues of common concern; and working in partnership with other bodies. Follow us on twitter: @natparksengland

2. There are 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). They are business-led organisations, established to promote local economic growth and employment. The first LEPs were set up in April 2011. A map of all the LEPs is available at the LEP Network site

3. The National Parks England Offer to LEPs is available for download or in hard copy by request

4. Lord Heseltine wrote a major report for Government - No Stone Unturned, in October 2012. The report focused on how to generate growth, and stressed the importance of more local implementation. He continues to be a senior advisor to the Government on these issues.

5. More information on the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership is available on the website

Contacts for further information

Paul Hamblin, Executive Director, National Parks England
Tel: 020 7072 7421  Mobile: 07968 760 854  Email: paul.hamblin@nationalparksengland.org.uk

Contact details for Media Officers for each of the National Parks are available.