Na­tional Park plan back in spot­light

The Galloway News - - NEWS - STEPHEN NORRIS

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.”

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