South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has warned that the Scottish Government must push forward with the creation of a Galloway National Park or risk falling further behind, following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement of £40m funding for green spaces in England.
The prime minister also promised new national parks and greater protections for England’s iconic landscapes.
In November 2019, the case for Galloway to become Scotland’s third national park was given a boost in the Scottish Parliament after Colin Smyth’s call on the Government to designate new national parks was unanimously backed by MSPs.
At present Scotland has just two national parks – in the Cairngorms and at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. There are currently ten in England and three in Wales.
A Galloway National Park would include parts of Galloway and South Ayrshire; however, it would require Scottish Government approval.
Colin Smyth said: “The momentum behind the campaign for a Galloway national park is growing all the time.
“I had hoped the fact the Government did not vote against my motion in Parliament last November showed that their position was changing, and they were becoming convinced to come on board with the idea of new national parks in Scotland, including here in Galloway.
“However, even before the pandemic struck, plans had stalled.
“Following Boris Johnson’s funding announcement and the promise of new national parks for England, my fear is that Scotland will lose out and fall further behind.
“A Galloway National Park would be an incredible way to ensure the area’s post-Covid recovery. National parks have a proven track record of providing major economic advantages to their areas, supporting local businesses, generating jobs for young people, providing affordable homes, promoting investment in sustainable rural development and growing the tourism sector.
“These are benefits we sorely need in the south west of Scotland at the best of times but now more than ever, a new national park could be key to our region’s economic recovery.
“I am urging the Government needs to listen and work with the community now to develop a plan for a Galloway National Park that meets the needs of the community and realises the huge economic and environmental benefits this will bring to our region.”