The principal aim of the Association is to research the potential for a National Park in south west Scotland and to consider the potential costs and benefits.
The Association has 18 Trustees, 8 Patrons and over 700 subscribing members and growing.
Trustees have undertaken research and the Association has also commissioned research leading to the publication of a Discussion Paper in December 2017 supported by a website and leaflets.
A major engagement process commenced in January 2018 and involved almost a hundred meetings. These included extended sessions with 20 Community Councils from Muirkirk and Dailly in the north to Drummore and the Isle of Whithorn in the south, some 12 specially arranged public events and meetings with a range of organisations and sectoral interests, including local authorities and representatives of the farming, forestry and landowning communities .
Responses were sought via a questionnaire which was distributed at meetings and was also made available online on the GNPA website. 84% of the 430 respondents to the questionnaire were in favour of a National Park.
The views of young people have been sought via a series of National Park related projects at local schools and an invitation to present their views at a major consultative conference, which attracted almost 300 delegates, in November 2018.
Dumfries and Galloway, East Ayrshire and South Ayrshire Councils have indicated their support in principle for a National Park.
Local MSPs, representing the three largest parties in the Scottish Parliament, have indicated their support for a National Park.
- The area has natural and cultural resources of national significance which merit designation as a National Park;
- The area has special environmental, economic and social needs which a National Park could help to address;
- A National Park could build on the work of the existing Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere in applying the principles of sustainable rural development and integrated land use, and exemplifying their benefits;
- South west Scotland has in recent decades experienced rapid and sustained land use change – perhaps more far-reaching than anywhere else in Britain. It now faces further such change. A National Park Authority could focus attention on this prospect and its potential implications, bringing together all stakeholders and seeking to develop a consensus on the way forward in line with the ambitions of the Scottish Government’s Land Use Strategy;
- National Park status would raise the profile of the area and attract both visitors, new residents and investment, thus strengthening the resilience of its communities and complementing the aims and activities of the new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency;
- A National Park Authority with a majority of local representatives and employing professional staff, based in the west of the region and focused on the issues relevant to such a deeply rural area, could assist local democracy, provide new jobs and contribute to the desired de-centralisation of power;
- A National Park Authority could give greater priority and resources to improving access to the countryside with benefits for health and wellbeing;
- A National Park could help better interpret and market Galloway’s distinctive cultural heritage;
- The costs to the Scottish Government of funding the National Park would be offset by business growth and the associated rise in business rates, income tax and VAT;
- There is very significant local support for a National Park across the local authorities, local MSPs and local residents.
Accordingly the Association requests Scottish Ministers to commission a formal, publicly-led study into the feasibility of a Galloway National Park.
For more details visit www.gallowaynationalpark.org