Five Scottish regions go for new National Park status

Kirkcudbright Galloway National Park
The proposal from Galloway includes a variety of landscapes from the hills of the Galloway Forest Park to the rugged southern coastline, such as around Kirkcudbright. Photo: Jim Cornall

The applications are in, and now assessment of the five nominations for the creation of a new National Park in Scotland will begin.

Five areas – the Scottish Borders, Galloway, Lochaber, Loch Awe and Tay Forest – are in the running to be Scotland’s next National Park.

The Scottish Government committed to designating at least one new park by 2026, to join Cairngorms National Park and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.

The government has noted that there will be at least one new park, so it has not ruled out more than one of the proposals being accepted.

Further consultation will be held once a preferred site is identified, expected to be in the summer.

Biodiversity Minister Lorna Slater said: “The Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs Parks have shown how valuable National Park status can be.  Both Parks are recognised for their incredible landscapes, their outstanding natural and cultural heritage.

“National Park status has boosted their economies, supported local business and engaged communities to make the parks work for those who live and work in them. Once we have a site identified, we will engage again with the people in the area to look at determining things like park boundaries and balancing environmental protection with helping the communities and local enterprises thrive.

“I want to thank everyone who has worked so positively and proactively with their local communities to discuss and explore local priorities and the opportunities that National Park status can bring, including those who ultimately chose not to nominate their area. I look forward to meeting with those who have led the nominations to hear directly from each community what they would want to see from becoming a National Park.”

Kat Jones, director of Action to Protect Rural Scotland (APRS), said: “Scotland has some of the richest and varied natural and cultural landscapes in the world and is, rightly, world famous for them. Of the 15 National Parks in the UK, Scotland has only two and we are pleased that, 20 years since the first Scottish National Park was designated, we will soon have another.

“National Parks in Scotland, in contrast to those in many other parts of the world, are tasked to deliver for people, nature and landscape. This recognition of how important people and livelihoods are for our landscapes, means National Parks are in a unique position to lead the way on the nature and climate crises while also supporting thriving, sustainable communities.”

John Thomson, Chair of Scottish Campaign for National Parks (SCNP), said: “The process of inviting nominations from communities has revealed widespread aspiration and interest in National Park status. It’s a strong signal that this should be the start of a process for creating a suite of National Parks in Scotland, so that communities can build on the fruitful discussions they have had.”