Manifesto pledges to create new national park
The Conservatives have made creating a third national park in Scotland a key manifesto commitment ahead of the Scottish Parliament election.
Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson, who is hoping to be reelected as the party’s candidate in May, has welcomed the policy being introduced.
This has been announced along with a proposed ‘Nature Bill’ designed to reduce the threat of species extinction, protect marine life and expand urban green spaces.
In February the Scottish Government rejected a motion put forward by South Scotland list MSP Emma Harper on the potential for a Galloway National Park.
Despite cross-party support the Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, Ben Macpherson stated there were “no plans to designate new national parks”.
Campaigners vowed to keep up the fight, with Mr Carson describing the decision as ‘short-sighted’.
He said: “The Scottish Government insisted it would be too costly to undertake, given the financial restraints caused by the pandemic. But such a decision is both regrettable and short-sighted.
“Galloway National Park Association provided a strong case that would balance development and environmental pressures in the area. I believe it is important that a feasibility study is also carried out as quickly as possible.
“More importantly, post-Covid and as part of the green recovery national park status would trigger considerable social and economic benefits ”
Mr Carson insists the Galloway National Park would be able to address any shortcomings previously encountered in the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and Trossachs.
He added: “It would be an example of sustainable environmental development, protect our wildlife, landscapes while creating and developing rural jobs and businesses.
“Scotland’s existing national parks currently lead the way in tackling the climate emergency and nature crisis, promote mental and physical health and well-being, so there are many obvious benefits from expanding the number.
“I am delighted my Conservative colleagues see the benefits of creating a national park in an area of outstanding beauty, yet one that has been sadly neglected for too long.”