Na­tional park dream at risk

Tight fi­nances could hit Gal­loway pro­posal

The Galloway News - - NEWS - Stu­art Gille­spie

Fi­nan­cial con­straints could put paid to plans for a na­tional park in Gal­loway.

And En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary Roseanna Cun­ning­ham has warned that the re­gion is in com­pe­ti­tion with other parts of the coun­try in a bid to be­come Scot­land’s third na­tional park.

The Gal­loway Na­tional Park As­so­ci­a­tion re­cently held a suc­cess­ful con­fer­ence on the plans and First Min­is­ter Nicola Stur­geon said she would give “full con­sid­er­a­tion” to the idea.

Gal­loway and West Dum­fries MSP Fin­lay Car­son asked Ms Cun­ning­ham at Holy­rood about the pos­si­bil­ity of a for­mal con­sul­ta­tion on the pro­posal.

She told him there were no plans to add to Scot­land’s two na­tional parks – the Cairn­gorms and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs – but there is an “on­go­ing con­ver­sa­tion with peo­ple, not just from Gal­loway, but other parts of Scot­land where there are com­pet­ing in­ter­ests in hav­ing na­tional parks”.

She added: “I re­mind Mr Car­son of some of the com­ments I have made in the past which are that there are fi­nan­cial con­sid­er­a­tions in all this. Not only have those fi­nan­cial con­sid­er­a­tions not gone away; if any­thing, they have been ex­ac­er­bated.”

Mr Car­son de­scribed the re­sponse as “very luke­warm” and called on the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to clar­ify their po­si­tion on the mat­ter.

South of Scot­land MSP Emma Harper asked Ms Cun­ning­ham to com­mit to “giv­ing the prospect of a Gal­loway na­tional park se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion”.

The min­is­ter said she was happy to en­gage on the pro­pos­als “as we are do­ing with other com­mu­ni­ties think­ing about na­tional parks”.

She warned: “Any pro­posal would need to be as­sessed in the con­text of the real con­cerns around pub­lic fi­nances and the costs that would be as­so­ci­ated with new na­tional parks.”

South of Scot­land MSP Colin Smyth said calls for a na­tional park could also be de­scribed as “a cam­paign for equal­ity across ru­ral Scot­land as the ben­e­fits of na­tional parks should be not just for cen­tral and north Scot­land, but all of Scot­land, in­clud­ing the south, which is sadly all too of­ten for­got­ten”.

Ms Cun­ning­ham dis­puted the claims the cur­rent na­tional parks are in the cen­tral belt, say­ing they are “very ru­ral and help the ru­ral econ­omy”.

She said: “There are many other things be­ing dis­cussed in re­la­tion to the south of Scot­land. The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to set­ting up a de­vel­op­ment agency in the south of Scot­land which is in­tended to bring eco­nomic ben­e­fits to the area.”

No plans Roseanna Cun­ning­ham

Call for clar­ity Fin­lay Car­son

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