National Parks

Scotland has two National Parks:

Both serve as models of sustainable development and with that are central to rural economic development and recreation, sustainability, and conservation efforts.

Constitution and purpose of the 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, with which 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 delivery of these four statutory National Park aims, and in this way ensure a sustainable future for these areas.  

National Park Partnership Plan

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.

The Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan 2017 to 2022 was launched on 1 June 2017, and the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs Park Partnership Plan 2018 to 2023  was launched on 8 March 2018.

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.