Nominations process begins.
Communities and organisations are being invited to submit their proposals to become Scotland’s next National Park.
A key commitment in the Bute House Agreement is to designate at least one new National Park in Scotland by 2026, to bring positive benefits for the environment and economy.
For the first time, nominations for a new Park will be driven entirely by local communities and organisations, and all areas of Scotland are eligible to submit proposals. To meet the criteria, groups must be able to demonstrate, among other factors:
- outstanding national importance due to natural or culture heritage
- a distinctive character and coherent identity
- how National Park status would meet the specific needs of the area
- evidence of local support for the proposal
Detailed guidance has been published, and support will be available for any group looking to explore or take forward a proposal. The deadline for submissions is 29 February 2024.
Visiting Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity Lorna Slater commented:
“Scotland’s National Parks are among our greatest assets. They are home to internationally renowned landscapes and nature, and provide outstanding opportunities for recreation and local communities. - They also play a crucial role in tackling climate change and protecting our precious natural environment for future generations.
“Now is the time to add to them. We believe that a new National Park should be founded upon local community demand, which is why we are launching this unique nominations process.
“In May we invited early expressions of interest and we have already had a really positive response from communities and organisations across the length and breadth of the country. This is not at all surprising given just how much Scotland has to offer.
“I encourage everyone that is considering putting forward a proposal to read the guidance that we have published on the Scottish Government website, and get in touch to find out about the support available.”
Convener at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority Dr Heather Reid said:
“It is clear that more than ever we need our National Parks to lead the way in showing what a more sustainable future could look like.
“Biodiversity is declining faster than at any time in human history and together with the climate emergency, these twin crises are already having an impact on the country our children and grandchildren will inherit.
“The people, communities and natural assets of Scotland’s National Parks – existing and future - can contribute significantly to Scotland’s efforts to restore nature, tackle climate change and have greener economic growth.”
Cairngorms National Park Authority Board Convener Sandy Bremner said:
"This is a great opportunity for communities in Scotland to join the family of National Parks to tackle some of the biggest challenges around nature loss, climate change & community development.
“National Park status can bring enormous benefits to a region. It offers a heightened focus on the protection and enhancement of the area’s natural and cultural heritage. It can attract vital support to hard-pressed communities, and bring people together to achieve inspirational change."
Areas that have submitted early expressions of interest in becoming a National Park include:
- Scottish Borders
- Tay Forest
- Eilean a' Cheo (Skye and Raasay)
- Affric to Alladale
- Glen Affric
- The Lammermuirs
- Largo Bay
- Loch Awe
The Scottish Government has committed to designating at least one new National Park in Scotland by the end of this parliamentary session in 2026, provided that relevant legal conditions can be met, including compatibility with the application of other regulatory frameworks in place or planned for the area.
As set out in the Bute House Agreement, Scottish Ministers have been clear that new National Parks should be designated in response to local community demand. They should bring positive benefits to our environment and economy by supporting progressive development, addressing the climate emergency and improving public and community wellbeing.
In Spring 2024 all nominations will be appraised against the criteria set out in the appraisal framework. This will inform the decision of which area or areas should go forward for designation as a new National Park.
In Summer 2024 NatureScot will carry out a detailed investigation into the area or areas selected to become a new National Park. Based on the outcome of that investigation, legislation is expected to be brought forward in order to designate at least one new National Park by 2026.
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