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YOUR VIEWS: Is there a burning demand for a new national park in Ross-shire and the wider Highlands?

By Hector MacKenzie

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Ben Wyvis from the Black Isle. Picture: Gary Anthony.
Ben Wyvis from the Black Isle. Picture: Gary Anthony.

‘The Scottish Government will create at least one more National Park by 2026’ is the key line.

Judging by Loch Lomond and Cairngorm National Parks this will cost the taxpayers c.£13m per year, ie £130m over the next decade.

At a time when Government finances are really tight is this a good use of public money, is there a burning demand from the local communities for a National Park and will it resolve the major issues?

I have my doubts.

National Park enthusiasts in the West Highlands have worked hard to inform the public through public meetings and social media, they are dedicated, public spirited and hard working. I’ve attended meetings, spoken to many people and read whatever I can get my hands on. It appears to me that less than 10% of the people are engaged at all. One park questionnaire really irritated me, presumptive questions like ‘would you like less littering’ presumably with the aim of having headlines like’ 99% of respondents agree there should be less littering’, to support the argument.

We have over tourism in the summer, no bed spaces, roads clogged and cafés full. It sometimes takes an age to get into Portree, Fort William or Plockton, and single track roads are a nightmare especially around iconic visitor attractions. The last thing we need is more visitors in the peak season.

Cairngorm National Park employs c.105 people and remarkably has a paid board of well over 20.

Their rangers carry out much worthy work with path building and litter clearing, a significant role seems to be carrying out the green agenda of peat restoration, native woodland planting, improving biodiversity etc. It follows every politically correct ambition of a major Scottish Government department, presumably at a significant cost.

Dunvegan needs a new primary school, the Corran a new ferry and Fort William a new Hospital. If you did a poll of the people of the West Highlands and ask how they would spend £130m, whether for a National Park or new hospital/school/improved roads, I suspect well over 95% would opt for the infrastructure project.

I am not convinced we need any new National Parks in Scotland, a huge expense with accompanying bureaucracy. My understanding is that the Green Party made it a condition of their coalition with the SNP that another National Park would be created; just another of the Greens’ disasters-in waiting, dreamt up in the Central Belt. The Scottish Government should direct tax payers money to what the Highlands really needs.

Angus MacDonald

Highland Councillor and Liberal Democrat Candidate for Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire for the

Westminster election

Do you agree or have a different viewpoint? Share your view by emailing hector.mackenzie@hnmedia.co.uk

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