Nominations have opened for Scotland’s next national park, with ten expressions of interest already lodged with the Government.
Communities and organisations have been asked to submit their plans to become the third national park – after Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, and the Cairngorms.
The deadline for submissions is February 29, with applicants asked to demonstrate “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, and evidence of local support for the proposal”.
A number of areas have already submitted expressions of interest, including Galloway, the Scottish Borders, the Tay Forest, Lochaber, Skye and Raasay, Affric to Alladale, Glen Affric, the Lammermuirs, Largo Bay and Loch Awe.
Speaking on a visit to Loch Lomond, Scottish Government minister Lorna Slater said: “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.”
Bargained as part of the Bute House Agreement between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Greens, the initiative will see at least one new national park named by the next election in 2026.
Nominations will be assessed against the criteria and put forward to be a national park, with NatureScot carrying out extensive investigations next summer before legislation is laid in Holyrood to make it official.
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