Local politicians have hailed the achievements of a group of volunteers as almost 300 people sign up to the first conference of a campaign to designate Galloway as a National Park.
The Galloway constituency MSP, Finlay Carson of the Conservatives, the SNP’s Emma Harper MSP and Labour’s Colin Smyth MSP have all welcomed the forthcoming conference organised by the Galloway National Park Association (GNPA).
Speaking in advance of the event, Finlay Carson MSP praised the GNPA’s efforts:
‘I am looking forward to attending the GNPA Conference this month. This will be a fantastic opportunity to hear more about the progress the association has made in their campaign to make Galloway Scotland’s 3rd National Park.
‘Over the last few months there has been a huge effort to engage with individuals and groups across the region to canvass views on the creation of a Galloway National Park.
‘I believe that this conference can be a springboard for turning aspirations into reality. National Park status has the potential to transform the economy of rural Galloway.’
For Labour’s Colin Smyth MSP, the conference was evidence as to a growing ‘momentum’ behind the campaign:
‘There is real momentum building in the campaign for a National Park and this conference is great opportunity for people to find out more about the plans.
‘The National Park brand is recognised across the world, and that alone could provide a real boost to the Galloway economy, bringing more visitors to our area.
‘The beauty of the work done by the Galloway National Park Association is that we don’t need to simply follow the model of other National Parks. We can learn from the experience of other areas and develop a plan that meets the unique needs of Galloway and the local community.’
Thanking the volunteers for their ‘hard work’, the SNP’s Emma Harper MSP said she had an ‘open mind’ about the proposals:
‘As an MSP, one of my priorities is to promote the rural economy of the South West of Scotland, its businesses, and all who live here in beautiful Galloway.
‘I absolutely approach the idea of a Galloway National Park with an open mind, and I look forward to engaging with key stakeholders, constituents and all interested parties to explore options of ways to better the Galloway area, and I thank the campaigners for all their hard work in getting the project to this stage.
‘I would welcome a Galloway National Park if there is clear evidence to suggest that it would benefit the area, and the people in the South West.’
Welcoming the politicians’ comments, GNPA President and Chair Dame Barbara Kelly said:
‘The encouragement from our elected representatives is a most welcome vindication of the GNPA’s efforts in exploring the case for a National Park in Galloway.
‘We are fortunate to have MSPs so rooted in the local community – and I am grateful to them for taking on board the view of a great many of their constituents who have shared with us a firm belief that National Park status could turn around Galloway’s fortunes for the better.’
The conference will meet at GG’s Yard near Gatehouse of Fleet on the morning of Monday 12th November.
Attendees will hear from speakers about how a “Kingdom of Galloway” National Park could fit in with other initiatives as part of a wider regeneration of the area.
The Galloway National Park Association (GNPA) has been canvassing opinion across South West Scotland about the role that a National Park could play in tackling the challenges that the region faces over the coming decades. If there is sufficient community support for the idea, the next stage is to persuade the Scottish Government to formally consult on a “Kingdom of Galloway” National Park.
Discussion at the conference will be crucial in shaping any proposal that gets taken forward to Scottish Ministers. Should they accept the GNPA’s proposals, the government would initiate a formal consultation on National Park status.