Creating more National Parks need not be unduly complicated or expensive, according to the latest joint research report published by two charities, the Scottish Campaign for National Parks (SCNP) and The Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland (APRS).
The report argues that National Parks in remote less populated areas of Scotland such as Glen Affric in the Highlands or the northern Cheviots in the Borders would have smaller budgets, staffing and governance structures than our two relatively large and complex existing National Parks.
Ross Anderson, Chairman of SCNP said: “This is the second in our series of research reports building on our Unfinished Business report published a couple of years ago which called for the creation of more National Parks. It clearly shows that future National Parks in Scotland would cover smaller areas and would have fewer staff, smaller Boards and lower budgets than either of our two existing National Parks”.
John Mayhew, Director of APRS said: “The flexibility built into the National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000 provides significant scope for a variety of approaches depending on the character and needs of the area concerned, whilst maintaining the balance between national significance and local accountability”.
The research report argues that as the seven additional National Parks proposed by SCNP and APRS extend into only one or two Council areas, they could each cost as little as £1.5m to £3.0m per annum to run, with no more than 10 to 30 staff and 8 to 13 Board members. This new report follows on from Unfinished Business, published previously by SCNP and APRS, which challenged the Scottish Government to bring forward a national strategy to deliver more National Parks in Scotland.
At present there are two National Parks in Scotland: the Cairngorms National Park and the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, with Boards of 19 and 17 Members respectively, primarily established to protect outstanding landscapes and manage visitor pressures. Scotland remains near the bottom of the world league in terms of its number of National Parks, yet travel writers regularly champion Scotland’s natural and cultural heritage as of world-beating quality.
The two charities say that the Scottish Government has failed to fulfil its 2011 manifesto pledge to “work with communities to explore the creation of new National Parks”. They say that whilst a local referendum overwhelmingly supported the creation of Scotland’s third National Park in Harris, Scottish Ministers failed to back this grassroots enthusiasm and that Ministers have repeatedly kicked the consideration of more National Parks into the long grass whenever the issue is raised.