South Scotland

Minister hears case for giving Galloway national park status

Galloway Forest Park Image copyright MJ Richardson
Image caption A fresh effort has been made to make the case for a national park in Galloway

The case for Galloway to become Scotland's third national park has been made directly to Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon.

Those behind the plans say securing the status could help with wider regeneration.

Ms Gougeon met campaigners during a visit to Kirroughtree in Dumfries and Galloway.

Gordon Mann of the Galloway National Park Association said the move had support right across the region.

Image caption Mairi Gougeon met with Dame Barbara Kelly of the campaign group to discuss the status

"We have now carried out I think the biggest engagement and consultation exercise ever mounted in this area - certainly by a voluntary organisation," he said.

"We have held over 100 meetings from Dumfries to Girvan and from Ballantrae down to Drummore - there is hardly a community that we haven't been involved with.

"The overwhelming support that we have had for the project means that now instead of being in a discussion mode we are now moving to become an organisation that is campaigning for a national park for Galloway."

Ms Gougeon said she was there to listen to the case before coming to any conclusions.

Image copyright Getty Images

"What I really am keen to do today is to take away the proposal and properly consider that before I am able to commit to anything else or to commit to anything further," she said.

"It is really just about hearing from the people that are involved in the campaign.

"I believe that we have got some school children here today as well so I am really looking forward to hearing from them and to hear what their thoughts are.

"Then I will go away and consider the proposal."

Economic benefits

The Scottish government has warned in the past that financial concerns over national parks have "not gone away".

MSPs were told last year that there were no plans to give any new areas the status.

However, campaigners believe the potential economic benefits would outweigh any cost concerns.

Scotland currently has two national parks - in the Cairngorms and at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.

Any new national park project would require Scottish government approval.

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