I share Peter Leeming and David Thomas’s concerns (Letters, August 8 'Beauty spots overwhelmed' and 'Tourists can't be dispersed') about proposed increases in tourism in the Lake District.

While tourism has a valuable part to play in the Lake District economy, its contribution to local wealth creation may be limited.

Unfortunately, it has come to be seen as the panacea for all our local economic ills, and the impression that it alone can generate the money to sustain the local community has taken hold at all levels of government.

As has often been rehearsed on these pages, the statutory purposes of the Lake District National Park Authority are to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Lake District National Park; and to promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the national park by the public.

Moderating between the two purposes, the Sandford Principle requires the LDNPA to prioritise the first over the second where the two come into conflict. The authority also has a duty in pursuing these purposes to seek to foster the economic and social well-being of local communities within the national park by working closely with the agencies and local authorities responsible for these matters.

The second purpose implicitly supports tourism, but only for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the park. The special qualities by implication are the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the first purpose.

The Sandford Principle thus implies that any tourism must be sustainable and compatible with the conservation and enhancement of these qualities.

It should also, where possible, contribute not just to the economic, but to the social well-being of local communities.

As your previous correspondents have pointed out, an over-reliance on tourism leads to unsustainable levels of visitors, resulting in damage to the special qualities (for example, degradation of over-used footpaths, air pollution from too many cars, damage to historic tracks by 4x4s), and to the social well-being of local communities, as for example in the supply of affordable local housing in rural areas, leading to hollowed-out villages like Hawkshead.

In the interests of keeping tourism compatible with the purposes of the national park, the LDNPA, and all levels of local and national government, should seek to explore and promote other, more sustainable business activities.

This would help diversify the area’s economic base and employment opportunities and so create more real wealth and social capital.

Ross Baxter