NATIONAL park governors have pledged to strike a balance between working towards climate change targets and its objectives to increase the number of people who visit the area and help its communities to prosper.

A North York Moors National Park Authority meeting heard while recent months had seen large increases in vehicles at its expanded car parks at Sutton Bank, at the same time the authority was under pressure to cut emissions it was directly responsible for to net zero by 2030.

In response to the Government’s 25-year Environment Plan, National Parks England has set out a blueprint in which park authorities have pledged to work together, and at scale, to achieve rapid action towards net zero.

To launch its action, the North York Moors authority has assessed its fleet of 32 diesel vehicles, which it has found accounted for about 30 per cent of its total emissions. It has concluded vehicle use needs to be cut and the diesel vehicles with electric ones where practical.

However, the meeting heard its actions to draw more visitors to the park had seen hundreds of extra vehicles travelling to some areas.

Jim Bailey, the authority’s chairman, said while the national park was expected to set an example to others, tackling climate change was “not exactly aligned with some of the other objectives we have”.

Mr Bailey said: “There aren’t easy and definitive solutions to reaching net zero carbon, but there are obvious things we can do along the way, such as looking at car travel and heating. However, when you look at what we do as a national park authority, visitor activity causes emissions, which is part of our priorities. If you look at the business, generally speaking the more income you make the more impact you have and that’s the conundrum with climate change.”

He said the park authority would be looking to work with partners to develop “some interesting and exciting opportunities” to cut carbon emissions, such as electric buses to ferry visitors to and from the park.

Mr Bailey said the authority was acutely aware that cutting carbon emission was high on both the government’s list and people’s list of priorities and that it needed to lead the way and do as much as it could.

He said: “It would be quite easy for a national park with a very low population to  shut its doors and say ‘look at us we’re carbon neutral’. How can that be of service to the nation? We’re not an island, we’re a kind of lymph node to the wellbeing of the nation.”

Mr Bailey said the park needed to work with other areas to avoid displacing carbon cutting impact from one place to another.

He added: “It’s a balance between being of service to the nation, health and wellbeing, beauty, all the things that the national park is there to do and with public transport and the pandemic’s restrictions it’s been really difficult to reduce the impacts.”