The proposed Cairngorms National Park

The National Parks (Scotland) Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament in August 2000. This sets out the framework for all future National Parks in Scotland. It identifies the aims of National Parks to:

As Reporter, SNH are carrying out a national consultation. SNH are also the Ministers' statutory advisor on natural heritage matters. The five key themes of the present consultation are:

  1. Should the area be designated a National Park?
  2. What area should the Park cover?
  3. What should the Park authority do?
  4. Who should be members of the Park authority?
  5. What should the name of the Park be?

NEMT are preparing a full response to the consultation paper. A summary follows and the full copy is being sent to all members with this newsletter. It is also available from the General Secretary.

1. Should the area be designated?

We feel that an area in the Cairngorms meets the requirements for designation under the National Parks (Scotland) Act. The area is of outstanding natural importance both nationally and internationally and it has a distinctive character and a coherent identity. Whilst we have real concerns that the proposed environmental and landscape protection may not be strong enough, there is no doubt that the area requires greater protection than it currently receives. We support National Park designation in principle, but think it essential that the terms of the designation are robust enough to achieve the aims on which this designation is based.

2 The Area and Boundaries of the Park

The area designated should be sufficiently large to ensure complete protection of the core mountain area and the regeneration of its natural habitat (primary conservation aim). This can only be achieved by designating further areas surrounding the core (Zoning Principle as detailed in the 1991 CCS Report). Overall, we favour designation of the largest area in the proposal (option C) with the exclusion of towns and most land west of the A9. Whilst supporting the concept of dividing the area into sub-units, we feel that the Reporter has made the mistake of over-using current administrative boundaries when allocating the sub-unit boundaries. These sub-units are important in defining, not only the outer Park boundary, but also internal boundaries between zones. This approach will only work if the sub-units have their own coherent identity. We recommend using information held by MLURI and SNH to define such sub-units. Water-catchment areas generally have coherent identities. These landscape areas are divided by watersheds, which form logical boundaries. Wherever a boundary is drawn, there is a danger of development immediately outside.

3 Powers and functions of the Park Authority

The Park Authority needs to have the powers to create and implement plans covering all activities which potentially have a significant impact on the natural habitat or landscape within the Park. To operate effectively the Park Authority will require planning powers plus other powers currently held by bodies other than the Local Authority. Of paramount importance is control of the allocation of public funds within the area (grants and subsidy). It will be necessary to impose Statutory Orders on the relevant bodies currently governing Forestry, Agriculture, Deer Management, Hill Tracks, Water Authority activities and the issue of licences to kill selected bird species. These issues are seriously under-represented in the current proposal. For activities that remain the responsibility of another body, the Park Authority should have the strongest possible consultative status. Experience has shown that voluntary codes do not work. We are also concerned about the over-use of "positive incentives" as handouts to landowners.

4 Membership of the Park Authority Board

We support the maximum sizes proposed (i.e. 5, 10, 10). Membership should be based on land area as local interests are already represented on a population basis. The Park Board needs a balance of relevant experience with national and international interests fully represented. There is a danger that this balance will be lost with interest groups wanting "their representative". Posts should be widely advertised and selection should be against pre-determined standards.

5 Name

Cairngorms National Park

What happens next?

There is still time for responses to the present consultation. SNH have extended the consultation period to 30th April 2001. After receiving SNH's advice, Ministers will (assuming the designation is going ahead) prepare a draft Designation Order and consult further (Autumn 2001?). The Scottish Parliament would then consider a draft Designation Order (March 2002?). If all this goes smoothly, a Park Authority could be established and the Cairngorms National Park become operational in 2003.

Donald Thomas, 18th March 2001

An Expert's View of National Parks

This interview first appeared in National Geographic magazine.
Yogi. That's a pretty stupid name, isn't it? I mean, it's something you`d call a cat, not a bear.
If you don't mind I'm here to discuss national parks.
Forgive me. You live in Jellystone Park?
That's correct.
Which doesn't actually exist…
Where else is a fictional bear to live?
Point taken. Yogi, in your experience, what benefits are there in designating a wilderness area a national park?
As opposed to a National Heritage Area?
Or a Site of Special Scientific Interest?
Or, for the sake of argument, a Site of National Heritage?
With all due respect, Yogi, there isn't such a thing in Scotland.
Give the bureaucrats time…
If you could just answer the question.
Very well. The designation itself isn't important.
What is then?
How that area is managed.
And how is Jellystone managed?
It isn't. It's fictional - remember?

Are you seriously advocating a similar policy for Scotland's wild areas?
I thought such a policy was already in operation.
A policy of no policy?
And how does such a policy work?
It doesn't.
Yogi, we seem to be going round in circles.
As does Scottish Natural Heritage.
Don't you mean Central Government?
Who can tell?
Where are we?
National parks.
Forgive me. You live in Jellystone Park?
You've asked me that already.
Suppose I was to say you're a spineless two-dimensional buffoon who's in no position to be telling anybody how to look after the land.
I'd say vote for me.
Is that why you wear a tie, albeit without a shirt?
You're becoming puerile.
Are we to believe a bear with a silly name and an even sillier hat is better placed to weigh the pros and cons of national parks than our politicians?
But then I am smarter than your average bear.

NEMT Front Page | Previous Page | Volume Index Page | Next Page | Journal Index Page

Please let the webmaster know if there are problems with viewing these pages or with the links they contain.