Green fields highlighted by sunrays through heavy clouds from Curbar Edge

Authority and Partnership work on Climate Change

Sphagnum Moss on the Peak District moors

As an Authority, we are obliged to adhere to the 2008 Climate Change Act. This set a nationwide goal of reducing greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels). In 2019, the goal was updated to a 100% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050.

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 Authorities 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 Authorities have a role as exemplars of sustainability in enabling the natural environment to adapt to predicted changes. The Parks themselves will be threatened by climate change and the Authorities must ensure that they protect the public assets which the Parks represent. The management of the Parks can play a key role in the fight against climate change and in leading others by demonstrating best practice.

The Authority is aiming to achieve these roles through its current and future policies and actions, both independently and in partnership. The Act and Circular are reflected in the Authority’s plans and policies. 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 2018-23 has a specific focus on ‘Preparing for the future climate’. The associated action is to undertake a climate change vulnerability assessment on a quarter of the National Park’s special quality features to determine how vulnerable they are to climate change and suggest actions to mitigate its impacts. Additionally, as climate change is a cross cutting area, other aspects of the NPMP also contribute to reducing climate change.

Our Corporate Strategy 2019-24 has eleven key performance indicators (KPIs) that are relevant to climate change, including increasing the amount of carbon captured and stored from land use and management, the area of blanket bog moving towards favourable condition, and the area of new native woodland created. The 11 KPIs are across all three strategy outcomes.

Below are some examples of Authority and partnership work that will assist in reducing the impact of climate change on the Peak District National Park.

Carbon Management Plan

The Authority has had a Carbon Management Plan since 2010. The current Carbon Management Plan 2020-2050 outlines our vision to be a net zero carbon Authority no later than 2050.

The Plan first and foremost looks at how we manage our buildings and includes a new methodology for identifying material impacts and prioritising emissions reductions across our building portfolio. 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. Our goal to counterbalance these unavoidable emissions is to manage the land that we own in a way that sequesters carbon, helping to create a net carbon sink. We hope that through gathering data concerning our land and land management practices, we can work towards our land becoming a net carbon sink. Therefore, when considered as part of our overall footprint, will counterbalance the residual emissions.

Peak District National Park Climate Change Adaptation Report

Our second adaptation report sets out our progress in preparing for climate change. Moreover, we present our future approach to managing and monitoring climate change adaptation. Understanding and communicating impacts and their origin is essential in order to attempt to mitigate and minimise the effects of climate change on our local society, economy and natural environment. One of the conclusions of this report is to undertake a climate change vulnerability assessment.

Peak District National Park Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment

This is an action in the National Park Management Plan. The Authority led on a climate change vulnerability assessment on a quarter of the National Park’s special quality features. This identified the degree to which a feature of the special qualities is susceptible to, and unable to cope with, adverse effects of climate change, including climate variability and extremes. The assessment was completed in 2020 and the full report can be accessed here.

Peak District National Park Climate Change Planning Policies

The Authority is doing what we can to actively encourage Peak District National Park residents, visitors and businesses to help us tackle climate change through our planning policies.

The Authority’s challenge is to enable people and businesses to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The requirement for sustainable building is imperative, but the potential for gains is limited because the overall levels of new development will be low. In addition, the quality of the landscapes means that infrastructure such as wind turbines is difficult to accommodate particularly in the more remote upland areas such as the Dark Peak. There is however potential to generate sustainable energy in ways more suited to the National Park landscape. For example, the White Peak has been a traditional location for water-generated power and it retains this potential. For existing buildings, the aim is to reduce energy consumption and not replace expensive and polluting fossil fuel consumption with incongruous renewable energy infrastructure. The challenge therefore is to make it easier to do this in ways that conserve and enhance buildings and their landscape settings across the National Park.

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.

One way the Authority is addressing this is through providing advice on farming and land management. We also try to influence national policy 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. We need to balance the need to travel for residents, businesses and visitors with the ambition to have a net zero carbon Peak District National Park by 2050. A hierarchy of travel will assist in achieving the ambition. Advances in technology and a consistent level of broadband service across the National Park will enable home working and video conference calls to continue to reduce the need to travel. The hierarchy for remaining travel is active travel (walking and cycling), sustainable travel (public transport) and alternative fuel sources (e.g. electric vehicles).

In 2019 we launched a seasonal bus service, the Hope Valley Explorer, to provide sustainable transport options for visitors. We are also exploring the expansion of Electric Vehicle charging point networks within the National Park. The Wider Peak District Cycle Strategy also contributes to the delivery of sustainable travel within the Peak District.

Climate Change Summit in Buxton, October 2019

The Authority hosted a climate change summit in October 2019 in Buxton as part of the National Park Management Plan. It sought to identify potential partnership actions that could make a significant impact on the emission of greenhouse gases in the Peak District National Park, focusing on transport and agriculture and land management. A total of 94 delegates attended from potential partner organisations with the ability to support initiatives to reduce the impacts of climate change.

Attendees reflected on and reinforced the need to work towards Net Zero Carbon for the National Park by 2050, and gained a better understanding of the current emissions sources in the Peak District National Park. Insights were heard from experts around the topics of land management and sustainable transport, and local leaders spoke on their commitments to move from words to action. As a result of the summit, a number of possible partnership actions were identified that would offer the greatest contribution towards our national emission reduction targets. These potential partnership actions were assessed to see which could be worked up to form part of the National Park Management delivery plan. The subsequent new climate change actions within the 2020/21 delivery plan include: sustainable travel; peatland restoration; regenerative agriculture to store carbon in grasslands; and integrating more trees into the landscape.

Moors for the Future Partnership & Peatland Restoration

37% of the Peak District National Park’s 555 square miles is upland moor, and there has been much work undertaken in the Dark Peak to restore the quality of its moorlands through the Moors for the Future Partnership. They provide a dramatic landscape and a globally rare habitat. The aim of this 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. The Moors for the Future Partnership has confronted an exceptional challenge over the past 16 years working to bring this entire landscape into good ecological condition, restoring the benefits it delivers.

South West Peak Landscape Partnership

The mosaic of contrasting landscapes and habitats that makes up the South West Peak (SWP) provide benefits such as carbon storage and climate regulation, and the South West Peak Landscape Partnership works towards restoring, protecting and improving these landscapes. The Upstream Thinking project has been carrying out blanket bog restoration work in parts of the SWP’s moorlands by plug planting sphagnum moss, while the Slowing the Flow project works in the uplands to mitigate some of the impacts of climate change such as downstream flash flooding, by restoring or emulating the natural function of catchments, rivers and floodplains. The Glorious Grasslands project works to strengthen and expand areas of species rich grassland, which can store significant amounts of carbon in their soils, as well as providing habitats and flood alleviation through water retention.

White Peak Partnership

The White Peak Partnership is carrying out strategic landscape scale delivery to work towards the Government’s call for more, bigger, better and joined up habitats. Currently, the small size of the important habitats that make up the White Peak makes it difficult for them to adapt to the effects of climate change and to provide viable habitats for good populations of species. The Authority has worked with Natural England and other partners to produce opportunity mapping for a White Peak nature recovery network.

Member-led Climate Change Task Group

In 2019, the Authority set up a Member-led Climate Change Task Group. The group acts as an advisory body to the Authority’s Programmes and Resources Committee and exists to develop the Authority’s thinking on and response to climate change by providing a focus for the Authority’s response to climate change and a strategic oversight of the Authority’s climate change actions. However, decision making powers reside with the Programmes and Resources Committee and the Authority. Notes of the group’s meetings are seen by the Programmes and Resources Committee.

The task group comprises of six Members of the Authority. The Members are: David Chapman, Charlotte Farrell, Chris Furness, Janet Haddock-Fraser, Lydia Slack and Ken Smith. The Chair of the group is Janet Haddock-Fraser.

The Members of the task group are particularly focused on the following four themes:

  • Agriculture, forestry and landscape
  • Moorland
  • Cement works
  • Transport.

Other initiatives

The Authority also carries out engagement and awareness raising about issues such as Moorland Fire Risk (through the Fire Operations Group), and plastic free initiatives such as #PlasticFreePeakDistrict.

You can read our chair Andrew McCloy's blog as he shares his reflections on climate change and transport.

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