The National Parks of Wales are living, working areas that support vibrant communities and iconic landscapes that are used to market Wales across the world. They are also special places that must be conserved for future generations. The Valuing Wales’ National Parks report indicated that Wales’ National Parks account for over half a billion pounds of Wales’ Gross Value Added, representing 1.2% of the Welsh economy, with nearly 30,000 people employed within the Park boundaries.
Despite this, a perception exists that National Park designation acts as a barrier to economic development, with the role of National Park Authorities as Planning Authorities being a particular target for criticism. There is little evidence to support this view. In 2011-2012 over 85% of planning applications submitted in National Parks were approved. This figure is comparable with the average for Planning Authorities across Wales. In relation to specific sectors, between 2007 and 2011 over 85% of planning applications for renewable energy installations in National Parks were approved and over 85% of applications relating to tourism and agriculture were also approved.
Due to the protection provided by the planning process, many of our towns and landscapes have become major attractions which support vibrant tourism industries and create thousands of jobs. However, National Parks are far more than tourism destinations, they are exemplars of sustainable development in action. Far from being a block on development, the planning system in National Parks allows exciting developments to be undertaken.
National Parks Wales published a pamphlet in October 2012 which highlights work in Brecon Beacons, Snowdonia and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authorities that supports the creation of jobs and a vibrant local economy. To read, click here.