The Scottish Government has been asked to get a move on with turning the long-held dream of a Galloway National Park into a reality.
The call comes from Galloway and West Dumfries Conservative MSP Finlay Carson who is urging the government to take the “next step” in the project he has been supporting since his election three years ago.
He said this week that he was disappointed at reported comments by Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP, suggesting a national park could “economically sterilise” the area.
Questioning this, Mr Carson highlighted the success of the Cairngorm National Park, where 9,400 people have been employed within the park and where the unemployment rate is down to 3.2%.
He also highlighted that the ‘National Park Effect’ in the Cairngorms had led to less of its young workers leavingthe area and more actually coming to live and work there.
Mr Carson has now challenged the SNP Government to commit to a feasibility study for a Galloway National Park, something Mr Mackay has told him he is happy to explore further.
The Conservative MSP commented: “I have continuously championed the case for a Galloway National Park since my election in 2016, believing it would bring a major economic boost to the region.
“I wanted to push the Finance Secretary to commit to a feasibility study for a National Park, and therefore I was disappointed that he suggested that a national park could potentially “economically sterilise ” the area.
“I thought he would have recognised the many benefits that National Park designation has brought for the Cairngorms, which I believe can be replicated in Galloway.
“We need to be encouraging our youngsters to stay in the region and a Galloway National Park could help provide many opportunities.
“I will continue to push the SNP Government to take the next steps in progressing plans for a national park for Galloway, which would truly put this region on the map both nationally and internationally.”
In January Mairi Gougeon, Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, visited Galloway and talked to interested parties such as the Galloway National Park Association.
After the visit, local SNP MSP Emma Harper commented: “The proposal for a Galloway National Park appears to be a positive step which should be given further consideration by the Scottish Government for our Bonnie Gallowa’ Region.”