National Parks Update

Work on National Park selection continues: Nikki Sinclair, the National Parks Strategy Project Manager, gives us an update – June 2024

In May 2024, after the appointment of the new First Minister, the Scottish Government reiterated its intention to designate at least one new National Park. In the reshuffle of Ministerial positions, the responsibility for National Parks now falls within the rural affairs portfolio, under the Cabinet Secretary, Mairi Gougeon MSP.

Answering a parliamentary question, the Cabinet Secretary summarised the ongoing process saying that the five nominations received were being appraised against the criteria outlined in the Scottish Government’s published appraisal framework. Following the appraisal process and the submission of a report, Ministers will decide which of the nominations should be taken forward to the next stage.

The National Park proposal(s) will be published and will set out the area which it is proposed should be designated as a National Park. At that point a statutory process will commence starting with a detailed exploration of each proposal that will be led by a ‘reporter’ [NatureScot]. This reporting process is estimated to take around 9 months and will involve extensive consultation and engagement with local communities, stakeholders, businesses, local authorities, community councils and relevant public bodies and interest groups in order to further develop, test and refine the National Park proposal in light of local views and circumstances.The resulting report will be published and laid before Parliament. Following the publication of a report, and subject to legal conditions being met, the Scottish Government will then lay a designation order before Parliament in order to establish the new National Park(s). This process will include a 12-week public consultation on the draft designation order. Following this period of consultation a final designation order would then be laid before parliament.

Following the announcement that there will be a General Election on 4 July, we anticipate that the announcement of any proposal for new National Parks in Scotland will take place after that, so potentially in mid-July.  

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