“We welcome this proposal to move the Park’s boundary south to take in Blair Atholl and spectacular nearby hills such as Beinn a’Ghlo,” commented Nigel Hawkins, Chief Executive of the John Muir Trust. “The Park currently only includes the Northern Cairngorms. This extension will embrace the Southern Cairngorm mountains as well, truly earning Scotland’s first National Park the title of ‘The Cairngorms National Park’.”
The Park currently stretches from Grantown on Spey to the heads of the Angus Glens, from Ballater to Dalwhinnie and Drumochter including much of the Laggan area in the southwest and a large area of the Glen Livet estate.
The John Muir Trust hopes that making Blair Atholl the focus point for visitors entering the park will increase its impact. “Right now the only indication that you are entering Britain’s largest National Park is a sign by the road at Drumochter,” said Nigel Hawkins. “Moving the boundary to Blair Atholl will give the Park greater presence, as well as bringing potential economic benefits to area.”
The Cairngorms National Park is internationally recognized for its mountainous areas of wild land, moorlands, forests, rivers, lochs and glens. Almost 40% of the land area is protected by natural designations and two thirds of these sites are of Europe-wide importance. It is also home to some 16,000 people.
Nigel Hawkins cautioned that it is essential that environmental protection remains central to the Park’s future development. “At this review of National Parks, after their first five years, we must remember that the Parks were established to protect our best natural heritage. This must be foremost and will contribute to economic aims. Tourists come to see stunning landscapes and wildlife – let’s not kill the golden goose by putting short-term economic gain first.”