Introducing the Peak District Environmental Quality Mark - a certification award that can only be achieved by businesses actively supporting good environmental practices in their local area - in the Peak District and Staffordshire.
The Peak District Environmental Quality Mark (EQM) is the first award of its kind in England. Throughout Europe, there are a plethora of eco-labels that tourism businesses can apply for, but the EQM is different. It aims to give a seal of approval to businesses that are looking after both the global and local environment, at the same time as providing a high quality visitor experience. This is because the EQM is a location-based award specifically for the Peak District that enables local businesses to demonstrate how they use and enhance the landscape in a sustainable way, to increase the satisfaction of visitors and customers.
Award-holders have demonstrated that they conserve and enhance the special characteristic features of the Peak District National Park and use products grown or made locally, while achieving high standards of care for the environment in the more global sense we’re all familiar with – reducing their energy consumption, their waste and their water usage for example. In this way, by specifically looking after the land and the places we love to visit, they are contributing both to environmental quality and the quality of the visitor experience.
Appreciation of the UK’s protected areas as places to visit depend on maintaining a high quality, aesthetically pleasing and distinctive landscape – an experience that you can’t get anywhere else. Examples of special landscape features that EQM businesses are helping to conserve are for example, wildflower meadows, special habitat for birds and wildlife, moors, dales, woodlands, dry stone walls and traditional buildings.
Because the award is not limited to traditional tourism businesses but includes for example food and arts and crafts producers, farms, wooden furniture and textile makers, there is huge scope for enjoying a greener holiday all round, through the use of EQM businesses. For example Losehill House Hotel & Spa hold and Rowley’s Restaurant and Bar both hold the EQM award. To create distinctive, tasty food menus that reflect the local area and link the visitor to the landscape, they might very well decide to use fellow EQM award holder Big Fernyford Farm who using traditional husbandry methods on land managed in an environmentally sensitive way, for their meat. This kind of sourcing between EQM businesses not only supports the local environment and creates a sense of place for the customer, but is great for the area’s own economy and local livelihoods. All good news for a greener holiday.
Examples of other EQM businesses include Cowclose Farm, a 200-year old farmhouse B&B in Chesterfield, Secret Cloud House Holidays, a trio of traditional yurts in the Derbyshire Dales and Peak Organics, a centre offering organic gardening workshops and sessions in Darley Dale.
The Peak District EQM has been recognised as a robust scheme by recently being validated by the International Centre for Responsible Tourism on behalf of VisitEngland – only the second such scheme to do so after the Green Tourism Business Scheme.
Director Faith Johnson, (who ran the scheme for the Peak District National Park Authority), says:
“We really believe in the Environmental Quality Mark as a way of helping the guest and the customer discover a more authentic and fun experience in the Peak District. What comes through when we are assessing Environmental Quality Mark businesses is how truly passionate they are about this fantastic part of England. They are proud of the amazing place where they live and work and they love to share everything that is special about it with you – their customer.
"The scheme is also validated by VisitEngland, which means we have undergone a rigorous verification process to ensure that we operate to high standards, the EQM is ‘fit for purpose’ and that claims of sustainability and environmental friendliness made by award holders are genuine.”
There are currently over 60 EQM members and the scheme is growing as more businesses demonstrate their commitment to the Peak District National Park. Whether or not it is through eco-labels or awards like this, Greentraveller welcomes place-based approaches that integrate good environmental practices with providing a better holiday experience and a genuine appreciate of the destination’s cultural and natural features. Look out for the EQM logo next time you are visiting the Peak District National Park.