National Park

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 5:25 pm on 8th June 1999.

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Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour 5:25 pm, 8th June 1999

Funding depends on the kind of national park that we in this Parliament collectively agree on. We can speculate-SNH predicted how much particular kinds of national park would cost-but until we know what kind of park there will be, it is impossible to answer Mr Ewing's question.

I want to emphasise the crucial point made by Jackie Baillie and Sylvia Jackson about balancing social and economic objectives with long-term environmental objectives. We need to get the balance right. That is the challenge and that is why establishing national parks is an exciting idea-it is an exciting issue for the Parliament to take up. We have had a lot of consultation and there is a lot of enthusiasm for a national park at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. Our challenge is to take the debate forward and to continue to involve people in that process.

I know from Linda Fabiani's comments that she has an aversion to quangos. It is important to note that the mix of people who are involved in running the national park will be crucial. Local people need to be involved-both those who run businesses and those who live in the area-as do local councillors and people at the national level. By setting up a national park, we give national priority to the issue of national parks as a whole. How we strike the right balance is one of the key matters that we need to discuss during consultation.

Work is well under way to establish national parks in Scotland. The issue is one that the Parliament needs to examine and one in which we all need to be involved. There is not just one approach for the whole of Scotland; we need enabling legislation to select the appropriate models for different parts of Scotland.

The partnership Government's commitment to establishing national parks in Scotland is clear and unequivocal. It was in the "Partnership for Scotland" agreement and is one of the key matters that we want to debate during this session.