Landscape and outdoor access

National Parks

Scotland has two National Parks:

National Parks serve as models of sustainable development. They do this by:

  • working to protect and enhance their natural and cultural heritage assets
  • promoting responsible access to nature
  • supporting local communities
  • managing millions of visitors annually  

We committed to the designation of at least one new National Park by 2026, provided that legal conditions can be met. As set out in the Bute House Agreement, any new National Park should be designated in response to local community demand. It should also support progressive development, address the climate emergency in the way we use our land and improve public and community wellbeing.

Nominations for new National Parks

On 12 October 2023 we invited individuals, communities and organisations to develop and submit formal nominations for their area to become Scotland’s next National Park.

Warning

The deadline for nominations is 29 February 2024.

These publications support the nomination process:

We are also offering support to communities and organisations that are developing a proposal for a new National Park, for example by helping to arrange, host and facilitate community discussions. To find out more about this offer of support, please email: nationalparks@gov.scot

Nominations for new National Parks will be appraised in spring 2024. If at least one nomination is selected to become a new National Park, a statutory process will then begin. A reporter will be appointed to lead an investigation and consultation on the National Park proposal and to produce a report. This report will be published and laid before Parliament. Scottish Ministers may then decide to make a ‘Designation Order’ which, if approved by Parliament, will lead to the designation of at least one new National Park by 2026.

Constitution and role of National Park Authorities

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority and the Cairngorms National Park Authority were established as executive non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) under the provisions of the National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000.

We provide annual funding to the Park Authorities in the form of Grant in Aid, which they use to deliver the 2000 Act’s statutory aims as well as other functions and duties conferred on them by the Act.  

The 2000 Act sets out four National Park aims: 

  • to conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage
  • to promote the sustainable use of the natural resources of the area
  • to promote understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the area by the public
  • to promote sustainable social and economic development of the communities of the area

The Park Authorities’ role is to co-ordinate the collective delivery of these four statutory National Park aims, and in this way ensure a sustainable future for these areas.  

National Park Partnership Plans

The 2000 Act requires each of the Park Authorities to prepare a five-year National Park Partnership Plan to serve as an overarching management plan. These plans set out how all those with a responsibility in each park, across public, private and voluntary organisations, will co-ordinate their work to address the most important issues in relation to conservation, visitor experience and rural development.  

The Park Authorities are responsible for leading the delivery of their respective plans and for ensuring the National Parks’ activities continue to align with our national strategies and aims.  Here are the current National Park Partnership Plans:

National Park Authority planning functions

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority is responsible for deciding all planning applications in the National Park area. 

The planning system in the Cairngorms National Park is managed by the Cairngorms National Park Authority and the five local authorities which operate in the National Park, with the Park Authority ‘calling in’ and deciding those applications which are big or important to the National Park.

National Park proposals - strategic environmental assessment (SEA)

We are proposing to make some changes to the National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000 in order to strengthen the leadership role of National Parks in tackling the interlinked crises of climate and biodiversity.

We have prepared a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) report relating to the proposal to designate at least one new National Park and the proposed changes to the National Parks legislation. We are consulting on this SEA from 21 September to 14 December 2023 alongside our consultation on the strategic framework for biodiversity and national parks legislation.

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