IT is a rugged region described as "a genuine Scotland in miniature" which ranges from wild hill country to green pastures, wooded river valleys, sandy bays and bold, rocky headlands.

It is home to many of the habitats and species for which Scotland is renowned, from blanket bogs to coastal sand dunes, and birds of prey such as golden eagles and hen harriers to over-wintering wildfowl.

Now plans to help protect the landscape and wildlife of Galloway by creating Scotland's third national park have been resuscitated with a new masterplan that states that it would also create up to 1400 new jobs and would pay for itself.

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The bid for the new national park which would bring together Galloway Forest Park, Scotland's first Dark Sky Park and the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, is expected to boost a flagging economy by up to £70m a year in the short term, a new study on the project reveals.


The idea has previously been floated but the Scottish Government has previously said that any new parks would incur significant costs and that at a time of pressure on public finances it would not be right to raise expectations.

In the wake of the latest moves, the Scottish Government has said: "There are no plans to designate new national parks in Scotland."

The Galloway National Park Association is rekindling the would-be project by trying to mitigate ministers' concerns in an extensive It's Our Time study that makes the case for the national park.

Despite being renowned throughout the world for its natural beauty, from the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond to the craggy heights of the Cairngorms, Scotland ranks near the bottom of the world league in terms of its number of national parks - which are seen as havens for the protection of natural landscapes, wildlife and habitats .


Currently the nation has two national parks, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, which was created in 2002, and the Cairngorms, established in 2003.

Both cover only 7.2 per cent of the Scotland’s land area, compared with 9.3 per cent of England which has 10 parks and 19.9 per cent of of Wales which has three parks.

The report submitted to ministers by the Galloway National Park Association, which calls for a feasability study to be carried out, says there is "significant local support" for the national park across local authorities, MSPs and local residents.

Of the 430 respondents to a questionnaire 84% were in favour of a National Park.

The group is led by Dame Barbara Kelly who said: "In order to be truly informed, we have produced this document which is the result of two-and-a-half years of discussion around this vast area.


"Now is the time for us to speak up for Galloway."

John Mayhew from the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland said the Scottish Government should give the proposal full consideration saying it would be an "investment" in the area.

"The Galloway campaign is in the lead with this formal proposal which we happily support, so the pressure is on the Scottish Government to do something about this," he said.

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The report says that an extensive National Park could probably be administered for no more, and possibly less, than the current £5m per year cost of running the Cairngorms National Park, the largest in Britain.

They say that main source of additional revenue would be increased VAT receipts as a result of the expected growth in tourism and the wider business economy.

The up to 1400 extra jobs that would be generated, would also boost tax revenue.

The GNPA said it would be "reasonable" to anticipate an increased tax revenue of £5m to £12m a year.

And the group tells ministers: "The costs to the Scottish Government of funding the National Park would be offset by business growth and the associated rise in business rates, income tax and VAT."


The group believes National Park status would raise the profile of the area and contribute both directly and indirectly to its economic and social development and future prosperity.

It is hoped that the national park would also help reverse an "alarming" predictions over a decline in population and boost the economy.

Latest projections show the population of the Dumfries and Galloway Council area dropping by 6.1% by 2037.

Over roughly the same period the working age population is forecast to fall by 20%, whilst the number of over-65s would increase by over a third The "worrying" picture confirmed by economic data which showed the Dumfries and Galloway Council area as having the lowest average full-time working wage in Scotland and a Gross Value Added (GVA) per head that at £18,720 was in 2017 over 20% below the comparable Scottish figure.

"Faced with this depressing situation and still worse outlook, the region – and especially its more rural south western extremities, in both Dumfries and Galloway and South and East Ayrshire – clearly requires a boost," the report says.


"It urgently needs to reverse current demographic trends and to retain and attract more people of working age."

A 2014 study shows that Northumberland National Park, one of the quietest in England, attracts 1.5 million visitors a year who jointly spend £190 million. The Cairngorm National Park also with 1.5 million visitors a year generated £185 million of visitor spend.

The protection of an area they described as a "genuine Scotland in miniature" is emphasised.

The national and international significance of the area is reflected in the presence of a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) accredited Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere Reserve and the UK’s first gold-rated Dark Skies Park.

It also has three of lowland Scotland’s five National Scenic Areas and numerous Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for birds, Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) for animals and habitats, and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).

It warns ministers: "South West Scotland has in recent decades experienced rapid and sustained land use change - perhaps more far-reaching than anywhere else in Britain.


"It now faces further such change. A National Park Authority could focus attention on this prospect and its potential implications, bringing together all stakeholders and seeking to develop a consensus on the way forward...

"A National Park Authority could give greater priority and resources to improving access to the countryside with benefits for health and wellbeing."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Galloway is a fantastic place to visit, welcoming tourists from Scotland and across the world.

“We are working to establish an enterprise agency for the south of Scotland which will deliver support tailored to local needs and develop the region’s economy to its full potential. Tourism in Galloway and throughout the region remains a vital part of the local economy, and we are working with key partners to ensure that it is sustainable and that it continues to develop.

“There are no plans to designate new national parks in Scotland. We continue to protect and enhance the natural beauty of Dumfries and Galloway - while promoting inclusive, sustainable economic growth. The south of Scotland is already home to National Nature Reserves, several Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Special Areas of Conservation.”