A proposal to establish a Galloway National Park is being discussed in the Scottish Parliament today after MSP Emma Harper secured a debate on the issue. Campaigners for the idea are keen, but not everyone is convinced.
As somebody who lives close to (though not within) the proposed National Park, I think it's a great idea. It's a beautiful area and like many parts of Scotland, indeed much of the UK, is under increasing threat of development, which is only likely to increase. I'm surprised at the comments by Ronald Turnbull, a writer I greatly admire. No, it's not Wester Ross or the Outer Hebrides, but frankly it's a heck of a lot more deserving of National Park designation than the South Downs or Norfolk Broads! Surely it is landscape quality rather than visitor numbers that should be the key factor in deciding whether to designate?
I was a very small part of the campaign during the 1990s for a Cairngorm NP. We were successful but when I look at what its done (now from a distance as I longer live there) I'm not sure it was really worthwhile. I still support the idea, not convinced by the implementation.
It’s a tricky one! The rate of development in Lomond and the Trossachs increased rapidly when it gained Park status. Quite the opposite of protectionism, it seemed the area was suddenly desperate to remodel itself on one of the busier, swankier parts of the Lake District.
The beauty of Galloway is that no one appreciates it. Few car parks, few tourist attractions, few visitors. Then again, if it doesn’t get protection it will soon be covered in windmills and forestry.
> Surely it is landscape quality rather than visitor numbers that should be the key factor in deciding whether to designate?
Depends if you have kids who you might like to live locally in the future, NP status will put the price of many existing properties up and kill development in even sensible places.
Any non tourist industry will find planning restrictions limit growth and employment prospects. Which is fine if the residents prefer low skilled, low wage, seasonal tourist work.
You may sense I'm skeptical.
I might be more enthusiastic about the idea if I saw the arrangements for existing NP’s being run in the interests of the environment and the users, rather than for moneyed interests. Neither Loch Lomond or Cairngorm administrations are exactly covering themselves in glory.
> Any non tourist industry will find planning restrictions limit growth and employment prospects. Which is fine if the residents prefer low skilled, low wage, seasonal tourist work.
I think most of the only impacted areas will be those paragons of growth and employment prospects - subsidy-reliant farms, that would otherwise be turning a loss. At least tourist industries wouldn't be reliant on anywhere near the same level of subsidies.
It's over a decade since I last walked in Galloway but it certainly struck a chord with me. It's not like anywhere else. True, there are wilder and more impressive places in Scotland - why the hell aren't Torridon or Fisherfield being protected? Down this way I think that the North Pennines were on the original list of places being considered for NP status but just 'failed' to make it. Eventually, the area got some protection as an AONB and avoided the tourism promotion aspects that go with the Lakes and Dales nearby. Could Galloway get something similar? Or is it all about bringing in the tourist pound?
Scottish equivalent of AONB are National Scenic Areas which include some of Dumfries & Galloway (see eg https://www.nature.scot/sites/default/files/2019-10/Special%20qualities%20NSAs%20-%20SNH%20report%20374%20-%20Map%20of%20all%20NSAs.pdf )
> Scottish equivalent of AONB are National Scenic Areas which include some of Dumfries & Galloway (see eg https://www.nature.scot/sites/default/files/2019-10/Special%20qualities%20NSAs%20-%20SNH%20report%20374%20-%20Map%20of%20all%20NSAs.pdf )
Thanks. I was vaguely aware of those. Interestingly, the Galloway NSA's only cover relatively small coastal areas and the much larger uplands ignored completely. Many years ago I walked up Cairnsmore of Carsphairn and was completely shocked to see the wind farms just beyond that had only just sprung up. That's when I realised the scale of the onslaught on the landscape being faced. It's gotten a hell of a lot worse and it would be criminal to let this happen in the Galloway hills. Unrelated question: your link shows a NSA up in Coigach. Wasn't Stac Pollaidh part of this, which has been de-listed? If that's so, nowhere is safe.
Wasn't Stac Pollaidh a National Nature Reserve but lost its status because of disagreements with the estates? I may be wrong though.
> why the hell aren't Torridon or Fisherfield being protected?
NTS have a large part of Torridon.
> NTS have a large part of Torridon.
and Beinn Eighe is owned by SNH. Much of the area is also SSSI & protected under EU legislation which for the time being remains in force.
What would actually change If it became a NP? As the man says, it's not the most popular destination and that's the case with unfettered access already. As for the risk of development, about zero unless we are talking the planting of conifers, in which case every cultivatable acre already has sitka spruce on in.
One of the arguments for a Cairngorms NP was to have a more coherent approach to planning & management rather than each of the 4 local authorities doing their own thing with little cooperation. I've not seen a map of the proposed Galloway NP but think its all within one local authority area (is that the case ?). So unless being a NP gives access to additional funding it may well be that there would be no real change other than increased publicity & any subsequent impacts of that.