This is an archived press release
Wednesday 5 May 2004
5 May 2004
PARLIAMENTARY PARLEZ IN THE PEAK
The Peak District set the scene last weekend for the All Party Parliamentary Group annual visit to National Parks attended by MPs, Lords and representatives of key environmental organizations, such as the Council for National Parks, Open Spaces Society and Association of National Park Authorities.
Tony Hams, Chair of the Peak District National Park Authority, welcomed the guests on their fact-finding tour to learn about the Authority's work and current issues in Britain's first National Park.
The theme of the two-day event was 'FINEST LANDSCAPE - FINEST FARMING - FINEST FOOD'.
MPs met with members of the Authority and senior staff to discuss agricultural issues, the rural economy and sustainable development.
Tom Levitt, MP for the High Peak, said: "The All Parliamentary Group is made up of MPs who have a specific interest in the National Parks. The visit to the Peak District provided my colleagues with an important opportunity to see at first hand the wonderful landscapes of the Parks, the problems and issues they face and the benefits that they bring."
Tony Hams, Chair of the Authority, said: "We’re delighted to have had the chance to showcase how food is produced in a protected landscape and demonstrate how that benefits local people and rural businesses. The strength of the link between the quality of the landscape and the economic vibrancy of the area is something we're very proud of in the Peak District."
The MPs visited 5 business projects that link high quality standards of environmental practice with the production of food and other services that are working to protect the Peak District's landscape and way of life.
At Ilam Youth Hostel the guests experienced the local food menu that is on offer to visitors. Local farmers - Sue and Terry Prince, Beechenhill Farm, Ilam; Sue and Steve Fowler, Church Farm, Stanshope; and Joe and Jane Gibbs, Wolfscote Grange, Hartington - demonstrated how they have responded to the changing agricultural environment.
At Chatsworth Farm Shop the Duchess of Devonshire told how the farm shop contributed to the local food economy and the estate. At Edale the group visited Andrew Critchlow - Chairman of Derbyshire National Farmers' Union - to see how he has integrated conservation, access and farming on his tenant farm.
The National Trust and National Park Authority Rangers led a walk through Dovedale to explain how the area is managed for wildlife and more than 2 million visitors annually.
Tony Hams said: "We discussed how the Authority and its partners, such as the Youth Hostels Association, are working with farmers and local businesses to benefit the countryside and the economy. National Parks provide opportunities for employment as well as enjoyment and we believe they can act as beacons for sustainable development.
"We hope the MPs will use the experience they've had in the Peak District and other National Parks to help protect and enhance these internationally important areas and their unique qualities and ways of life so that they can be enjoyed now and in the future."