Leading Politicians & Campaigners Say Planned New National Park Must Be In Galloway

Campaigners are calling for urgent action to put a Galloway National Park at the very heart of the proposed economic strategy for the South of Scotland.

The call comes after the SNP and Greens revealed their ideas for a co-operation agreement for government, including a third National Park for Scotland by the end of the parliamentary session.

The Galloway National Park Association (GNPA) had already been surprised that the draft South of Scotland Regional Economic Strategy, which is the work of the South of Scotland Regional Economic Partnership (REP), made no mention of a Galloway National Park.

This is despite the proposal having attracted support from MSPs and candidates of all major parties in the recent Scottish Parliament elections – and was even included in manifestoes.

The draft strategy is intended to provide a 10-year vision for the region – and says it aims to bring a “green and sustainable future”.

Rob Lucas, GNPA Chair, said: “Much of the draft strategy is excellent, but the omission of the National Park is profoundly surprising as it would be one of the best and most affordable ways to achieve a ‘green’ economic future.
“Given that the creation of a third National Park looks like being among the key pledges by Greens and SNP it is absolutely essential we ensure that it’s got to be Galloway.
“To miss out on such a huge opportunity for sustainable economic development and environmental protection would be an incredible loss for the region and its people.
“This is exactly the right moment for everyone involved in our economic future to come together and back plans for a National Park. After all the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow is just round the corner which will focus the attention of the whole world on how to foster sustainable economic development.
“Galloway’s plans for a National Park offer a brilliant ready-made opportunity for Scotland to make a truly significant contribution to a greener world.
“What’s more, it’s a proposal that our extensive consultation shows enjoys widespread support from the public, from business, from political parties, MSPs, MPs and local authorities – and which would be a straightforward way to help Scotland achieve its pledge to protect 30% of land for nature by 2030.”
Colin Smyth MSP, Scottish Labour’s Economic Development and Rural Affairs Spokesperson, said: “In Dumfries and Galloway rarely do we have an economic opportunity jump out at us in the way National Park status does and we should be grabbing it with both hands. 
“The economic boost a Galloway National Park could bring was needed even before the pandemic. But now, that need is more important than ever before. National Park status would promote investment, increase tourism and create the type of post-Covid recovery areas such as Galloway need.”

Finlay Carson MSP for Galloway and West Dumfries described the omission of the National Park as a “monumental oversight”.

He said: “I find it rather bizarre that it has not been included in the draft economic plan for the South of Scotland given the huge potential it offers to the area.
“Given the enormous potential that the creation of a national park in Galloway could offer I hope is merely an oversight by the South of Scotland Regional Economic Partnership (REP) which they will rectify immediately.”
“Given the new commitment for a third National Park in the Green/SNP deal, Galloway must surely be top of the list with the fantastic progress GNPA have made in garnering widespread grass roots support for the next Scottish National Park to be here.”
Emma Harper MSP for South Scotland who recently brought a debate in the Scottish parliament added: “If there is a new National Park created, it’s got to be Galloway. A Galloway National Park would need to work for all, across our communities, from agriculture to tourism, and support jobs as well as working alongside the Biosphere. 
“As part of the Scottish Government’s new Trade and Cooperation agreement with the Scottish Green Party, there is a commitment to create a new National Park by the end of this parliamentary term. Again, I want it to be located here in Galloway to the benefit of our region. I will immediately write to the Environment and Rural Affairs Minister to ensure the case for a Galloway National Park is continued to be heard. 
“A well-managed National Park can add to our already fantastic resources such as the UNESCO Biosphere, 7Stanes and Galloway Forest Park.” 

GNPA’s detailed response to the public consultation on the draft economic strategy is now available on its website. The organisation wants to see a full the public consultation which is triggered by the process to designate the Park – something the First Minister has publicly stated that she would welcome – on the proposal for a Galloway National Park.

It argues that it would be a highly affordable and effective way to help SOSE achieve its aims by supporting employment, business creation in the most remote areas of southern Scotland and would make use of its fabulous natural assets to reverse depopulation and create sustainable and fulfilling careers for young people.

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