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Time for Scotland to create more National Parks

25 Dec 2015

Murdo Fraser MSP

Scotland should create more National Parks, a move that would improve environmental protection and boost tourism, the Scottish Conservatives have said.

There are currently only two in Scotland – at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, and the Cairngorms – but experts have said there is plenty of scope for more.

The Scottish Conservatives will include the pledge in their manifesto for the Holyrood elections in May, joining organisations such as the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland in calling for the expansion.

It would costs an estimated £7 million to establish a National Park, but the subsequent economic benefits would be expected to significantly outweigh that.

Activists have pointed out that despite there being more than 3500 National Parks across the globe, Scotland only has two of these.

Parks can be created either inland or on a marine basis, while local communities would be extensively consulted before any move was made formal.

Giving land National Park status would give it the highest level of national importance, allowing for better protection of heritage and the environment, particularly when it comes to issues like planning.

Campaigners point out since their creation, the country’s two national parks have represented “remarkable value for money” and “inspire pride and passion among local people and visitors”.

In its own manifesto in 2011, the SNP pledged to “work with communities to explore the creation of new National Parks”, but nothing has been announced in its five years in government since.

Scottish Conservative tourism spokesman Murdo Fraser said:

“It’s clear the creation of Scotland’s two national parks has been a great success, and now is the time to extend that.

“All over the world National Parks have a huge significance for tourism and the environment, and considering Scotland’s reputation as an outdoors destination, it would be foolish not to capitalise on that.

“It would provide great economic benefits for the areas involved, and help protect some of Europe’s great wilderness areas.

“Designating certain areas as National Parks would not only allow local people to become more involved with the landscape on their doorstep, but it would help conserve it for future generations too.

“This was mooted in 2011 by the SNP, but in five years of government it has failed to make any progress on this whatsoever.

“And the estimated £7 million required to establish these facilities would soon be returned to local economies through a number of ways.”

Notes to editors:

For more on the campaign for the creation of more National Parks, visit:

http://www.ruralscotland.btck.co.uk/Projects/ScottishNationalParksStrategy