National Park

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 5:23 pm on 8th June 1999.

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Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour 5:23 pm, 8th June 1999

I support the motion in the name of Dr Sylvia Jackson. I shall declare my interest at the outset, as other members have been inclined to do. I am the directly elected member of the Dumbarton constituency, which covers the eastern part of the proposed national park for Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. It is undoubtedly an area of outstanding natural beauty, enjoyed by people from across Scotland and from across the world.

Until the park authority is established as a legal entity, the interim committee is considering four key aims: to safeguard the cultural and natural heritage of the area; to promote the sustainable use of natural resources; to promote the social and economic well-being of local communities; and to provide for public enjoyment and understanding. I will focus briefly on the potential for economic development.

The constituents of Dumbarton and I are clear about the need for sustainable development. We must balance the need to protect the environment with the need to create employment opportunities. There is no doubt that that will be an extremely sensitive issue, but it is clear that where we can, and where it is appropriate, we should develop job opportunities.

Tourism continues to be important to the Scottish economy, contributing approximately £2.6 billion per annum and supporting 178,000 jobs. The potential to create tourism-related employment in the context of the national park is evident. We should encourage local agencies to work together to maximise the opportunities, and above all to connect people who are unemployed with those opportunities. That will provide added value to our efforts. Equally, there will be development potential in the supply chain, education services, park ranger services and general recreation, all of which should be exploited.

At the same time, we must ensure that our heritage and environment are protected. I believe that the national park authority for Loch Lomond and the Trossachs is the mechanism to promote sustainable development and to protect the environment. I therefore support the motion calling for the establishment of a national park for Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, and commend it to the Parliament.