The Scottish Government has announced the nomination process for new National Parks, with a commitment to designate at least one more National Park by 2026. The new National Park(s) will be selected from areas nominated by communities over the next few months.
All areas of Scotland are eligible to submit proposals. To meet the criteria, groups must be able to demonstrate, among other factors:
● outstanding national importance due to natural or culture heritage
● a distinctive character and coherent identity
● how National Park status would meet the specific needs of the area
● evidence of local support for the proposal
Detailed guidance has been published, and support is available for any group looking to explore or take forward a proposal.
The submission deadline is 29 February 2024, with Scottish Ministers announcing the area or areas to be designated as new National Park(s) (subject to parliamentary approval) in Summer 2024.
During a visit to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity Lorna Slater commented:
“Scotland’s National Parks are among our greatest assets. They are home to internationally renowned landscapes and nature, and provide outstanding opportunities for recreation and local communities. They also play a crucial role in tackling climate change and protecting our precious natural environment for future generations.
“Now is the time to add to them. We believe that a new National Park should be founded upon local community demand, which is why we are launching this unique nominations process.
“In May we invited early expressions of interest and we have already had a really positive response from communities and organisations across the length and breadth of the country. This is not at all surprising given just how much Scotland has to offer.
“I encourage everyone that is considering putting forward a proposal to read the guidance that we have published on the Scottish Government website, and get in touch to find out about the support available.”
The Scottish Campaign for National Parks (SCNP) and Action to Protect Rural Scotland (APRS) have been campaigning for over a decade for Scotland’s existing tally of two National Parks to be added to, and today welcomed the opening of nominations for new National Parks.
Dr Kat Jones, Director of Action to Protect Rural Scotland (APRS) said:
“It’s been twenty years since a National Park was designated in Scotland, and we have so many important landscapes which should be recognised through this process. APRS are encouraging communities to consider whether their area could be Scotland’s newest National Park.
“All over Scotland there are places and communities crying out for the economic, social and environmental benefits that National Park status brings.”
John Thomson, Chair of Scottish Campaign for National Parks (SCNP) said:
“National Parks globally have always been at the forefront of efforts to protect the best of our landscapes and nature for all to enjoy. In Scotland they are also charged with bringing benefit to local communities from the sustainable use of these assets.
“The broad remit of National Parks makes them uniquely well placed to chart an environmentally responsible way forward as we face up to the potential catastrophes of climate change and biodiversity loss.
“Scotland has so many areas worthy of this accolade and we have so much to lose if we do not seize the opportunity that an expansion of the National Park network has to offer. SCNP is delighted to hear that, even before nominations had opened, the Scottish Government has received over 10 expressions of interest. We very much hope that most, if not all of these, will get taken forward to the next stage.”
In 2013 the two charities jointly published the report ‘Unfinished Business’ setting out the case for more National Parks and highlighting seven areas of Scotland that were potentially worthy of designation. However they were also aware that there were many other areas that would be worthy of the designation.
APRS has been campaigning for National Parks in Scotland for over 60 years.
Nomination form for submitting proposals for the new National Park(s) project.
Areas that have submitted early expressions of interest in becoming a National Park include:
Eilean a’ Cheo (Skye and Raasay)
Affric to Alladale