New National Park (Economic Impact)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 28th March 2019.

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Photo of Finlay Carson Finlay Carson Conservative

3. To ask the Scottish Government what assessment the finance secretary has made of the potential economic impact of a new national park. (S5O-03070)

Photo of Derek Mackay Derek Mackay Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government has no plans for any new national parks and has therefore not undertaken any economic impact assessment.

Photo of Finlay Carson Finlay Carson Conservative

As I highlighted earlier this week, the economy of Galloway is struggling, with annual average weekly earnings that are 10 per cent lower than those in the rest of Scotland. In stark contrast, research on the Cairngorms national park has shown that the unemployment rate was just 3.2 per cent, with 9,500 people employed. More important, it showed that more people were coming to the area and fewer youngsters leaving. Will the cabinet secretary recognise the economic opportunities for young people that national park designation would bring and that legislation for the creation of additional national parks would allow for sustainable economic development to be a priority?

Moreover—

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

No, that is plenty.

Photo of Finlay Carson Finlay Carson Conservative

I have not asked my question yet.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

I got lost in the long preamble to it. Could you perhaps ask your question briefly and not give us another paragraph?

Photo of Finlay Carson Finlay Carson Conservative

I certainly will. Economic impact can be realised only when this Government commits to plans for a feasibility study for a Galloway national park—

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

I think that there is a question in there somewhere.

Photo of Derek Mackay Derek Mackay Scottish National Party

There was more of a question in what Mr Carson was saying before he was cut off than there was in what was supposedly the question.

I want to be supportive here. If the campaign for a national park had the aim of sterilising a whole part of the south of Scotland, I do not think that that would be welcome, because that would not allow economic opportunities to be realised. However, what I heard Finlay Carson talk about was delivering economic opportunities, and I would be interested in exploring further how such a proposal could unlock those opportunities—indeed, in exactly the same fashion as the legislation to establish a south of Scotland enterprise agency is a vehicle for delivering economic growth. I am interested in hearing more about how any campaign for a new national park would add to rather than stymie economic opportunity and sustainable development, but I would also point out that the matter is primarily one for the minister for rural affairs, who I know has met the member and I think will be happy to continue to explore the subject.