Campaigners and MSPs are calling for Galloway to be announced as the site for Scotland’s third national park.
This follows the news that the Scottish National Party and the Greens have come to an agreement for government, after the SNP failed to win an outright majority at the Scottish Parliament elections in May. In their draft policy programme, the two parties pledged at least one new national park.
Galloway is one of seven areas identified by the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland (APRS) and The Scottish Campaign for National Parks (SCNP) along with Glen Affric, Wester Ross, Ben Nevis, and Harris. The two charities have been campaigning for more national parks since 2010. They welcome the news that the government has now committed to this long awaited proposal.
Scotland currently has two national parks, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, and Cairngorms.
APRS Director John Mayhew said: ‘Today marks a great step forward for Scotland’s countryside.
‘We were delighted to see today’s commitment to designate at least one new National Park, and we encourage all involved in ratifying this decision to do so with enthusiasm.’
SCNP chairman John Thomson said: ‘National Parks have built up substantial expertise in encouraging healthy outdoor recreation and sustainable economic and social development.
‘They are therefore ideally placed to lead the recovery of rural Scotland following the coronavirus epidemic, including by encouraging domestic tourism.’
Galloway, in Scotland’s south west, is considered to be the most likely candidate to receive the coveted status. Support for the region as a national park has been expressed by MSPs and candidates from all major parties, and the Galloway National Park Association (GNPA) was surprised when the draft South Of Scotland Regional Economic Strategy made no mention of a Galloway national park earlier this summer.
Rob Lucas, GNPA Chair, said: ‘Given that the creation of a third National Park looks like being among the key pledges by Greens and SNP it is absolutely essential we ensure that it’s got to be Galloway.
‘To miss out on such a huge opportunity for sustainable economic development and environmental protection would be an incredible loss for the region and its people.
‘What’s more, it’s a proposal that our extensive consultation shows enjoys widespread support from the public, from business, from political parties, MSPs, MPs and local authorities – and which would be a straightforward way to help Scotland achieve its pledge to protect 30% of land for nature by 2030.’
Emma Harper MSP for South Scotland who recently brought a debate on the topic in the Scottish parliament said: ‘If there is a new National Park created, it’s got to be Galloway. A Galloway National Park would need to work for all, across our communities, from agriculture to tourism, and support jobs as well as working alongside the Biosphere.