Perth and Kinross Council has agreed to submit a bid to the Scottish Government to create a new national park in northern Perthshire.
The decision to progress the Tay Forest National Park bid was made at a meeting of Perth and Kinross Council on Monday, January 22.
An enthusiastic Provost Xander McDade told councillors he believed Perth and Kinross had one of the best bids and – if successful – the park could “bring in millions of pounds of investment”.
The Scottish Government has committed to creating at least one new national park by Spring 2026 and opened the bids process last October.
The proposed Tay Forest National Park would sit between the existing Cairngorms National Park and the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.
The revised indicative proposed boundary of the park would include Aberfeldy, Pitlochry, Dunkeld, Birnam, Comrie and Crieff.
At Monday’s meeting Provost McDade – who previously convened Cairngorms National Park Authority board – said: “I think we have put together one of – if not the best – bid out of the areas that are bidding at the moment.”
From October 6 to December 1, 2023, Perth and Kinross Council ran an eight-week consultation on its bid to create a new park in northern Perthshire with an online survey as well as drop-in sessions in Dunkeld, Pitlochry, Comrie, Aberfeldy and Crieff.
There were 352 responses to the consultation survey and more than 160
attendees at drop-in sessions.
Out of the 352 respondents, 57 per cent were in favour and 33 per cent were opposed.
The largest level of opposition came from land managers with 78 per cent disagreeing.
Geographically, the highest level of support in agreement or strong agreement was in the FK21 postcode area (90 per cent), PH10 (72 per cent), PH15 (63 per cent) and PH16-18 (63 percent).
The lowest levels of support were in the PH8 postcode – areas around Dunkeld, Birnam and Amulree – where almost 70 per cent of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with it.
The provost, who represents the Highland Perthshire ward, was pleased with the involvement of the Perth and Kinross community.
The independent councillor said: “I was quite pleased with the response level as it was being taken at quite a dark, wet time of year.”
Blairgowrie and Glens Conservative councillor Bob Brawn questioned if it was a “possible disadvantage” creating a park between two existing national parks.
However Provost McDade said he felt it could be beneficial as “it creates wildlife corridors” and “creates continuous areas of designation which are helpful in terms of managing an area consistently”, as well as bringing in significant government investment.
He added: “This has huge potential to bring in millions of pounds of investment to our communities coming directly from central government.”
Moving the report for approval, Provost McDade said: “This is a very unique opportunity.
“This is the equivalent of city status for some of our rural communities. It is a significant opportunity to bring in direct investment and funding from central government to help support some of our fragile rural communities manage some of the challenges we have seen in recent years around visitor management and help look at improving social and economic development in these communities.”
Acknowledging the residents who are not currently supportive, Provost McDade added: “I see it as my duty to try and help win the 33 per cent around by hearing their concerns and making sure that – if we were successful – the national park reflects their aspirations for the future of their communities as well.
“I think this is a huge opportunity for Perth and Kinross to recognise the areas of outstanding beauty in northern Perthshire and to obtain significant Scottish Government investment in our area as well.”
It was seconded by council leader Grant Laing.
The SNP Strathtay ward member said: “I – like everyone else here – will be hoping for a positive result next summer.”
The Scottish Government’s deadline for nominations is Thursday, February 29, 2024.
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