National Park plan back in spotlight
The drive for a Galloway National Park is back under the spotlight at Holyrood.
Recent months have seen the Scottish Government face growing calls to launch a feasibility study.
Then campaigners met rural affairs minister Mairi Gougeon in January to seek her support.
Now Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson has urged finance minister Derek Mackay to intervene.
“Economic impact can be realised only when this Government commits to plans for a feasibility study for a Galloway National Park,” Mr Carson told MSPs.
Mr Mackay replied: “I want to be supportive here. If the campaign for a national park had the aim of sterilising a whole part of the south of Scotland, I do not think that would be welcome, because that would not allow economic opportunities to be realised.
“However, what I heard Finlay Carson talk about was delivering economic opportunities, and I would be interested in exploring further how such a proposal could unlock those opportunities.
“I am interested in hearing more about how any campaign for a new national park would add to rather than stymie economic opportunity and sustainable development.
“But I would also point out that the matter is primarily one for the minister for rural affairs, who I know has met the member and I think will be happy to continue to explore the subject.”
Speaking afterwards, Mr Carson called on the Government to take ‘the next step’.
He said: “I have continuously championed the case for a Galloway National Park since my election in 2016, believing it would bring a major economic boost to the region.
“We need to be encouraging our youngsters to stay in the region and a Galloway National Park could help provide many opportunities.
“I will continue to push the SNP Government to take the next steps in progressing plans for a national park for Galloway, which would put this region on the map both nationally and internationally.”