The 2008 Climate Change Act was updated in 2019 and sets a nationwide goal of reducing greenhouse gasses by 100% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050. As an Authority, we are obliged to adhere to this legislation.
The UK Government Vision and Circular for National Parks 2010 places climate change as central to national park authority objectives. The Vision and Circular states that national park authority are educators that should spread important messages about the impacts of climate change and how individuals, especially visitors, can play their part in tackling it in ways which motivate lifelong behaviour change. The national park authorities have a role as exemplars of sustainability in enabling the natural environment to adapt to predicted changes. The national parks themselves are threatened by climate change and the national park authorities must ensure that they protect the public assets which the national parks represent. Management of the national parks can play a key role as we adapt to the changing climate and in leading others by demonstrating best practice.
The Act and Circular are reflected in the Peak District National Park Authority’s (from now on referred to as 'the Authority') plans and policies. We aim to achieve these roles, both independently and in partnership, through current and future policies and actions. The Authority carries out its role in climate change through direct actions, through its regulatory role and by influencing others.
The Authority has to prepare a National Park Management Plan (NPMP) and review it at least every five years. The National Park Management Plan 2023-2028 sets out how the Park aims to become more resilient as it moves toward the target of net-zero by 2040. The Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment is an evidence-based report which outlines how vulnerable the Peak District National Park’s special qualities are to future climate change with a view to enabling the Authority and partners to direct energy and resources to those climate change adaptations which should have the greatest positive impact on the special qualities.
Our Authority Plan 2023-28 (to be published shortly) sets out how we will contribute to making the Peak District National Park more resilient and net-zero by 2040, as we deliver to the statutory purposes and duty of the National Park. We have three objectives that seek to:
- significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions
- sequester and store substantially more carbon via nature recovery
- reverse damage to nature, biodiversity and cultural heritage caused by a changing climate.
Examples of Authority and partnership work that have contributed to reducing the impact of climate change on the Peak District National Park are set out below.
Carbon Management Plan
The Authority has had a Carbon Management Plan since 2010. The current Carbon Management Plan 2020-2050 outlines the plan for managing the greenhouse gas emissions from our buildings and operations as we aspire to achieve net zero by no later than 2050. Projects to reduce carbon emissions will follow the Authority’s business planning periods, helping to align with budgetary decisions. In reducing our carbon emissions there will always be some emissions that cannot be avoided. We hope that through gathering carbon sequestration data on the land we own and manage, we can work towards our land becoming a net carbon sink which will counterbalance these unavoidable, residual emissions.
Climate change and sustainable building planning policies
The Authority’s challenge is to enable people and businesses to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The Local Development Framework considers sustainable design and construction, securing low carbon development, renewable energy developments, flood risk reduction, water conservation and waste management. The planning polices seek a best practice approach to building and use of resources aiming to make the most efficient and sustainable use of land, buildings and natural resources and, through the energy hierarchy, reduce carbon emissions and use low carbon and renewable energy sources where appropriate.
Farming and land management advice
Responsible and inventive management can help to mitigate the effects of climate change by creating and maintaining resilient landscapes, consisting of fully functioning ecosystems that allow nature and people to adapt effectively. This will aid wildlife and communities within the Peak District National Park, as well as those that feel a knock-on impact regionally, nationally and even globally. The Authority is providing advice to farmers and land owners about how they can engage and apply for grants with the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme (FiPL). We also aim to inform national policy in areas such as Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS) to the benefit of the Peak District National Park.
Sustainable travel and transport
Travel is one of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters in the Peak District National Park, but residents, businesses and visitors need to travel into and around the National Park. Solutions are required to help balance out this travel need with the ambition to become a net zero carbon national park by 2050. The National Park Management Plan 2023-2028 includes a specific action based on improving and promoting sustainable, inclusive and active ways to travel to and around the National Park. The Authority convened a Transport Symposium in January 2023 and invited experts from local authorities, charities, transport operators, tourism providers, community groups and major landowners to share their views and explore new ways of reducing private car use in the Peak District. Partners and stakeholders will further develop the ideas presented at the event as part of the National Park Management Plan sustainable transport framework.
Moors for the Future Partnership and peatland restoration
As of March 2023, Moors for the Future Partnership celebrates 20 years of partnership working across a vast area of moorland to protect precious blanket bogs for the benefit of people, the planet and wildlife into the future. 37% of the Peak District National Park’s 555 square miles is upland moor providing a dramatic landscape and a globally rare habitat. The Moors for the Future Partnership has confronted an exceptional challenge to bring this entire landscape into good ecological condition, restoring the benefits it delivers. The purpose of their work is to restore and conserve the ecological integrity of the blanket bog whilst raising awareness of the multitude of benefits that moorlands provide – most notably carbon sequestration as well as flood alleviation, management of fire risk, habitat conservation and enhancement, and recreational opportunities.
South West Peak Landscape Partnership
The South West Peak Landscape Partnership was formed in January 2017. It was a group of organisations working to restore, protect and improve the landscape of the South West Peak. With the Peak District National Park as lead partner and the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, this 5-year partnership (with benefits reaching far beyond that time) worked with local communities to build stronger connections with the landscape and with each other. The partnership enhanced ecosystem services (the benefits we all get from the natural environment) and supported sustainable farming in the area. Whilst the South West Peak Landscape Partnership scheme ended on 30 June 2022, the legacy of action and enthusiasm for the restoration and protection of this area, its communities, traditions, cultural heritage and wildlife will hopefully continue.
White Peak Partnership
The White Peak is a special landscape with a wide range of people working to care for and protect it. The rich natural and cultural heritage of the White Peak is at risk from further changes in agriculture and land management, increasing recreational pressure and climate change. The White Peak Partnership was involved in formulating ideas for Defra's Tests and Trials for the new Environmental Land Management (ELMs) scheme. It aimed to determine whether a National Character Area (NCA) framework could be used to design some of the Environmental Land Management building blocks and help change the relationship between the Government and farmers and land managers. The Test set out to engage farmers and land managers through a series of workshops and one-to-one interviews, with phase one focused on the White Peak NCA followed by a second smaller scale, more targeted Dark Peak and South West Peak NCA phase. The final Peak District Environmental Land Management Test Report concluded that NCAs are a good engagement tool for farmers and land managers, helping to enable the Government to achieve the 25 Year Environment Plan targets and the 30 by 30 ambition.