National Park

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 5:18 pm on 8th June 1999.

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Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party 5:18 pm, 8th June 1999

I congratulate Dr Jackson on raising a debate on a matter which the people of Scotland will expect us to solve in a way relatively free from party political considerations.

I would like to declare a number of interests. The second proposed national park in the Cairngorms falls within my constituency and many of the general issues that Dr Jackson touched upon have a similar, if slightly different, effect in my constituency.

The approach of this chamber should be to select the best elements from the rest of the world's experience of national parks and to learn from them, especially the lake district where the pressure has been unacceptable.

I should perhaps declare a further interest. Early this morning I went for a run, although that is perhaps an exaggeration of the speed, on the west Highland way. I ventured up Conic hill. The view from the top can be bettered only by views from the Cairngorms. I happened to meet a local shepherd and I asked him his views about this debate, because I was aware that it was in the business bulletin. He said that we must not have another quango, and a national park where the board of management is dominated by people who are not based in the area and who are not knowledgeable about local issues. I would like to see an elected body, comprising a majority of local residents, which has access to expert advice. That is suitable and necessary.

The second issue is one of expense. How much will the park cost per year? How will it be funded? Will the Labour party take this opportunity to rule out local road tolls, which were proposed by Scottish Natural Heritage as one method of funding?