Dame Barbara Kelly Talks To Kirkcudbright Rotary Club

The Rotary Cub of Kirkcudbright was delighted to host Dame Barbara Kelly, President and Chair of the Galloway National Park Association as their guest speaker on Tuesday 3rd September.

Club Members along with some partners and Members of the Inner Wheel listened to Dame Barbara as she gave an interesting and informative talk. Amongst the total of 45 listening were the Kirkcudbright Academy Head Girl, Millie and Head Boy Bruno. As a former Head girl herself, Dame Barbara was particularly pleased to meet one of her successors.


The GNPA has been working for three years, initially exploring the proposal to create a National Park in Galloway through public discussion and debate and latterly, having established significant local support, campaigning for it.


Dame Barbara explained her very personal commitment to the area and her conviction that it faces serious socio-economic and environmental challenges. The GNPA believes that a NP in Galloway would help meet them.


The GNPA outlined the criteria for designation of a National Park in  Scotland which include the requirement that it should have outstanding cultural and natural heritage, a distinctive character and should result in an Authority capable of addressing its special needs.


In addition, in Scotland, a National Park has to promote sustainable, economic and social development of the area’s people and communities. In other words, the Scottish legislation is as much concerned with the economic and social life of an area as it is of its heritage.

Although the Act was passed 18 years ago we only have two Parks in Scotland; Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and the Cairngorms.

In relation to Europe and even within the UK, Scotland is at the bottom of the list. Galloway has already got some important designations which underscore our case:

  • The Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, which is pivotal to the campaign because it demonstrates outstanding environmental quality
  • 3 National Scenic Areas
  • The Galloway Forest Park
  • the first Dark Skies Park in the UK

Dame Barbara went on to explain why we need a National Park. Our economy is dependent on four sectors: agriculture, forestry, fishing and the public sector. We have the lowest average wages in Scotland; proportionately ours is the most elderly population; we have low skills levels and we continue to lose our young people.

The GNPA believes that a National Park would protect and enhance the region’s natural and cultural assets, would put us on the map nationally and internationally and would help to build a Galloway brand. In addition, it would help existing businesses to grow and would attract entrepreneurs and professionals into the region. Young people would see better opportunities and the area would attract more central government funding.

Dame Barbara summed up ‘We have undertaken a huge and overwhelmingly positive ‘conversation’ in Galloway. We are supported by all of the relevant local authorities in the proposed area as well as our three MSPs and we have presented the case for a National Park formally to the Minster, Mairi Gougeon, who has agreed to meet to discuss our findings. We have also asked her to commission an independent publicly led feasibility study into the creation of the Park’.