"It is almost two decades since Scotland's first National Parks in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and the Cairngorms were established. Both are home to some of the country's most outstanding scenery, are internationally important areas for nature and receive millions of visitors each year. They work hard to tackle the biodiversity and climate crisis, help manage facilities for visitors, promote responsible access and develop sustainable communities. They have become jewels in Scotland's crown, and now is the time to add to them"
Lorna Slater, Biodiversity Minister
National discussion on the future of National Parks
In 2022, The Scottish Government launched a public consultation on the future for National Parks in Scotland. This consultation sought views and ideas on the role that National Parks can play in helping to restore nature, tackle climate change, promote sustainable land use and support public and community wellbeing.
Following this, NatureScot was asked to lead a further public consultation in order to provide advice to Scottish Ministers. This has involved engaging with a wide range of stakeholders. NatureScot's advice includes:
- recommendations for amendments to existing legislation regarding the role of National Parks in Scotland.
- recommendations for the nomination process and selection criteria for new National Parks in Scotland.
This document relates to the process for the nomination and selection of new National Park(s) in Scotland.
The Scottish Government is giving thorough consideration to the advice received from NatureScot and the views expressed by consultees about possible changes to the powers and functions of National Parks in Scotland. Any proposals for change will be presented for further public consultation later this year. A Strategic Environmental Assessment will be undertaken and published in future consultations related to this project.
2.1 Process for selecting and designating new National Parks
Nominations and appraisal
The Scottish Government is aware of several communities or groups which have expressed interest in putting their area forward for National Park status. A fair and transparent nomination process is therefore required to determine the area or areas to be taken forward to designation and an appraisal framework will be used to help assess nominations and identify the candidate area(s) (the 'National Park proposals') to be progressed under the National Park (Scotland) Act 2000.
NatureScot have provided advice to Ministers relating to the appraisal and selection process for new National Parks, recognising that although section 2 of the 2000 Act sets out the process for Scottish Ministers to make proposals for the designation of National Parks, there is no process in the legislation for the public to submit nominations for National Parks or for selecting which of those nominations will then be proposed as a National Park by Scottish Ministers.
The proposed nominations and appraisal process is set out below and in Image 1 contained in Annex B:
- Register of interest – nominating groups will be invited to register their interest in bringing forward a nomination. This will enable the Scottish Government to provide interested parties with information and updates in advance of, and during, the nomination window.
- Scottish Government will publish the finalised appraisal framework
- Scottish Government will launch the nominations process and will set out its offer of support to nominating groups
- Nomination window (5 months)
- Deadline for nominations
- Appraisal of nominations and report produced
- Decision and confirmation by Scottish Ministers of nomination(s) to be progressed as 'National Park proposal(s)'.
Pre-registration for nominating groups
Individuals, groups or organisations considering making a proposal are invited to register their interest in submitting a nomination as part of this process.
Registration will allow Scottish Government to update interested parties with any important information, key dates and communications throughout the process. It will also enable Scottish Government to contact interested parties about the offer of support that will be made available during the nomination process.
In order to pre-register interest, nominating groups can contact NationalParks@gov.scot or by post (to New National Parks Team, Scottish Government, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ) including name, contact details and the name of the area you are interested in nominating. There is no requirement to register interest in order to submit a nomination. Nor does registration commit a group or organisation to submitting a nomination. Registration details will not be made public.
Following the appraisal phase, subject to at least one nomination being selected to proceed as a National Park proposal, Ministers expect to appoint a reporter to undertake an investigation and report to them on the proposal(s). As outlined in the National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000, it is anticipated that Ministers will require NatureScot to take on the role of reporter.
As outlined in section 3 of the Act, if Scottish Ministers require such an investigation and a report on the National Park proposal(s), there is a legal process that must be followed. The reporter is required to publicise the proposal, conduct the investigation including a public consultation and provide a recommendation to Ministers on the following to inform a Designation Order to be laid in the Scottish Parliament:
(a) the area which it is proposed should be designated as a National Park,
(b) the desirability of designating the area in question (with or without modifications) as a National Park,
(c) the functions which it is proposed the National Park authority for the Park should exercise,
(d) the likely annual costs and capital expenses of the authority in exercising its functions,
(e) such other matters relating to the proposal as the requirement may specify.
The reporter's report will be published by Ministers and laid before Parliament upon completion.
Following the publication of the report on the National Park proposal(s), Scottish Ministers may decide to make a "designation order" following the process set out in the Act (Sections 6-7). This will include sending a copy of the draft designation order to every local authority within the proposed area, laying the proposed draft order before parliament and a further phase of public consultation on the proposed draft order.
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