New National Parks - appraisal framework: consultation analysis

Consultation analysis report on the draft appraisal framework criteria for new National Parks.

1. Introduction


The Scottish Government committed to establish at least one new National Park in Scotland by the end of this Parliamentary session in 2026. The existing National Parks are: Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, established in 2002; and the Cairngorms National Park, established in 2003.

Currently, no criteria for selecting National Parks exist other than the limited statutory criteria in theNational Park (Scotland) Act. Following an extensive consultation process, an Appraisal Framework has been drafted by the Scottish Government. This framework will support the selection of New Nationals Parks.

The New National Parks - appraisal framework: consultation was open between 11 May and 4 August 2023. The consultation aimed to gather a broad range of public and stakeholder views on:

  • The draft criteria for the appraisal of nominations for a new National Park designation
  • The components of each of the criteria for the appraisal of nominations for a new National Park designation
  • Any other comments in relation to the documents

The findings from the analysis will be used by the Scottish Government to revise and finalise the Appraisal Framework which will then be published ahead of the nominations phase of the selection process.

Respondent profile

In total, 165 consultation responses were received. Almost all were submitted via the online consultation platform, Citizen Space. Those received in an alternative format, for example, an email or PDF document, were reviewed separately by the research team.

Individuals provided 132 responses to the consultation; the remaining 33 were from organisations. To aid analysis, organisations were grouped on the nature of their work. The following table shows the number of organisations by group.

Table 1: Sectoral classification
Sector n= %
Individuals 132 80
Organisations 33 20
- Interest organisations / Stakeholders 15 9
- Public sector bodies 11 7
- Built Environment / Land management 4 2
- Energy 3 2

Analysis approach

The Lines Between was commissioned to provide a robust, independent analysis of the responses to the public consultation. The main purpose of consultation analysis is not to quantify how many people held particular views but to understand the full range of views expressed. This report provides a thematic analysis of responses based on the analysis approach outlined below.

Quantitative analysis

There were 29 closed consultation questions which asked respondents whether they agreed or disagreed with the criteria and their components included in the Appraisal Framework.

As not all respondents answered each closed question, each table in this report shows the number and percentage of responses among those answering each question and, for the criteria, broken down by individual and organisation responses and by type of organisation. Please note that figures in the tables may not add to 100% due to rounding.

A full breakdown of the number and percentage of responses to each question can be found in Appendix A.

Qualitative analysis

Qualitative analysis identifies the key themes across responses to each question. The analyst team developed a draft coding framework based on a review of the consultation questions and a sample of responses. During the full coding process, new codes were created if additional themes emerged.

In a small number of instances where alternative format responses contained information that did not align to specific questions, analysts exercised judgement about the most relevant place to include this material for analysis purposes.

Where appropriate, quotes from a range of participants are included to illustrate key points and provide useful examples, insights and contextual information.

Reflecting the large number of people who took part, it is not possible to detail every response in this report; a few organisations shared lengthy submissions which reflect their specific subject matter expertise. These responses are referenced where possible. Full responses to the consultation, where permission for publication was granted, can be found on the Scottish Government’s consultation website.

When reviewing the analysis in this report, we would ask that the reader consider:

  • Public consultation of this kind means anyone can express their views; individuals and organisations interested in the topic are more likely to respond than those without a direct or known interest. This self-selection means the views of respondents do not necessarily represent the views of the entire population.
  • Most of the consultation’s open questions asked respondents to elaborate on why they disagreed with a criterion or component of the Appraisal Framework. However, reasons for agreement were also received. All comments have been included in this report, regardless of the views expressed.
  • For each criterion and its component parts, respondents were asked to provide their views in two separate open questions. However, some respondents discussed the components under the criteria question, and vice versa; others left comments not directly related to either the criteria or components. All comments have been considered in this report, under the most relevant question, criteria or component.

Weight of opinion

This report presents the themes identified in responses from most to least commonly identified. All themes, including views shared by small numbers of respondents, are covered.

Qualitative analysis of open-ended questions does not permit the quantification of results; an insightful view expressed by a very small number of participants is not given less weight than more general comments shared by a majority. However, to assist the reader in interpreting the findings, a framework is used to convey the most to least commonly identified themes in responses to each question:

  • The most common / second most common theme; the most frequently identified.
  • Many respondents; more than 20, another prevalent theme.
  • Several respondents; 10-19, a recurring theme.
  • Some respondents; 5-9, another theme.
  • A few / a small number of respondents; <5, a less commonly mentioned theme.
  • Two / one respondents; a singular comment or a view identified in two responses.



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