Plans for more National Parks in Scotland get backing from major political parties ahead of May’s parliamentary elections
Young people are making their voices heard in the campaign to create Scotland’s third National Park in Galloway.
It comes as several of Scotland’s major political parties have pledged their support for new National Parks ahead of next month’s Scottish Parliament elections.
Six Stewartry secondary school students are among those who will help drive Count Me In! an initiative designed to allow young people and businesses to show their backing for The Galloway National Park Association’s (GNPA) proposals. These are to create a National Park covering large parts of Galloway and some of Ayrshire in south west Scotland in order to:
- Conserve, protect and promote some of Europe’s most beautiful landscapes and coastlines.
- Provide new jobs and sustainable business opportunities.
- Encourage community development
- Generate sustainable tourism
- Provide an abundance of new leisure and recreational opportunities.
The GNPA has had strong support from young people since it launched in 2017. Many see it as a way to conserve the region they love and provide activities and opportunities that offer them with a positive future in an area with a fragile economy.
Some will now be using their social media skills to spread the word about Count Me In! They include:
Mackinley Brown (15): “Having a National Park here is the right thing to do. This is a great area to show off because it’s so diverse. There’s so much wildlife here that’s not getting protected, and it deserves it as much as any place in the country. It’s a shame that Scotland’s got as few National Parks as it has.”
Loulou Henderson (16): “This is such a great place to be and to visit. A Galloway National Park would protect it all but would also bring in tourists and means lots more activities.”
Kate Mariacci (15): “Galloway is outstandingly beautiful. I want to share this with the rest of the nation and even the rest of the world. The wildlife is just absolutely amazing.”
Anna Miller (15): “It would mean more chances for people to see what a beautiful area this is, and would create more job opportunities that would encourage young people to stay rather than moving away.”
Logan Thorburn (15): “I think it would bring more activities, like more trails for mountain biking, walking trails, swimming, and other things and that would be just great.”
Ruby Walsh-Kirk (15): “I think a National Park would bring more activities to the region and would create new opportunities for jobs.”
Several of the social media volunteers have previously spoken at conferences about GNPA, taken part in a TV documentary and have been gathering names for a petition they plan to deliver to the Scottish Parliament which over 600 young people have already signed.
The Conservatives, Greens and Liberal Democrats have all declared their support for more National Parks in Scotland – with the Tories specifically backing Galloway. GNPA has high hopes that Labour will follow suit.
In South West Scotland Finlay Carson MSP (Conservative), Emma Harper MSP (SNP) and Colin Smyth MSP (Labour) have all actively supported proposals for a Galloway National Park.
Sadly Leith MSP Ben Macpherson, Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, recently told a parliamentary debate that his government currently has no plans for further National Parks – even though we have just two in Scotland.
Rob Lucas, Chair of the Association, said: “It’s clear that there is tremendous public and political support for a new National Park in Galloway- and we believe this will continue to build through Count Me In!
“Young people are the future of our country and we should be ensuring that areas like Galloway are protected and enhanced to give them a sustainable and fulfilling future in this wonderful part of the world.
“It’s an absolute folly that while Wales, England, Europe and the rest of the world are forging ahead with the creation of new National Parks and protected environments, Scotland is currently being left behind.
“We very much hope that the next Scottish government will take heed and set up a full public consultation process rather than setting their faces against a proposal that would bring so many benefits to the region and the nation.”
- In Wales the Labour Party, which currently runs the devolved government has made an election manifesto commitment to a new National Park covering the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley.
- The Westminster Government has pledged £80 million for National Parks and protected landscapes as part of a “green recovery plan”.