*National parks

15 February 2024

Ross-Shire Journal 13 February     Hector MacKenzie

Ben Wyvis-Glen Affric proposal abandoned

THE team exploring local support for a possible national park centred around Ben Wyvis have pulled the plug on the bid.

The prospect of the area "benefitting immensely" had been floated just a few weeks ago with hopes of looking after the natural environment and crating jobs.

The Scottish Government has vowed to designate at least one new national park by the end of the current parliamentary session in 2026. Nominations are being sought with a deadline of the end of February. Several prospective bids have been floated.

But the group gauging support within a tight time-frame for a prospective Ben Wyvis and Glen Affric National Park said in a statement today that "over the last few days it has become clear that difficult decisions had to be made".

It says: "Our team has misgivings concerning the limited timeframe and resourcing afforded to nominating groups thus far, and in light of this we do not feel confident that the process going forward to the next stage will be allowed sufficient time and resource to achieve a satisfactory collaborative outcome. Since it is not clear to us that a new National Park can be established to the highest standards within the current deadline, we are – with deep regret – unable to submit a nomination for Ben Wyvis and Glen Affric at this time."

Reasons outlined are:

  • According to the results of our survey and public consultation sessions, the balance of opinion, among those who have expressed one, stands at roughly 50:50 between support and objection to exploring a new National Park (NP) n our area. While no outcome can satisfy everyone, the most strongly expressed views have come from those opposed to a new NP, in particular among members of the farming and crofting community, and landowners.
  • Concerns expressed to us have included:
  • Unwelcome new red tape and a new layer of governance
  • Time/stress/expense for farmers/crofters/estates having to meet environmental demands made to them by a NPA when the farming sector is already under multiple pressures
  • A presumed lack of accountability and responsiveness within the governance of the NPA and its interaction with famers, crofters and estates
  • A presumed lack of farmer/crofter/estate representation in how the park would be run

It also acknowledged concerns that tight budgets could be better directed elsewhere and that food production should have higher priority. The statement went on: "Rightly or wrongly, many in the rural community feel that nature restoration is the overriding focus of Scottish Government to the detriment of local culture and economy."


January 2024

Bids invited for new National Parks

Scotland currently has two national parks - Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and the Cairngorms, the latter covering an area of 1,748 square miles in the council areas of Aberdeenshire, Moray, Highland, Angus and Perth and Kinross.

The Scottish Government is inviting communities and organisations to submit  proposals to become Scotland’s next National Park. Expressions of interest have been received from Galloway, the Scottish Borders, Tay Forest, Lochaber, Eilean a' Cheo (Skye and Raasay), Affric to Alladale, Glen Affric and Loch Ness, The Lammermuirs, Largo Bay and Loch Awe.

Closest to home are two bids for largely overlapping areas taking in Glen Affric, one extending east to Loch Ness, and the other also touching the shore of Loch Ness but extending north to include Alladale and Ben Wyvis.  Other proposals on the Highlands are for Lochaber and Skye and Raasay.

There will doubtless be a great deal of earnest argument in the coming months about whether achieving national park status is likely to bring benefits or disadvantages to a region, and which of the contenders has the best claim.

More information

Scottish Government overview  and further links

Glen Affric and Loch Ness

Ben Wyvis and Glen Affric        give your views


Skye and Raasay



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