A NETWORK of new national parks should be created to help Scotland tackle the climate emergency, the Liberal Democrats have insisted.

At the party’s autumn conference, a package of new environmental policies were backed including starting work on new national parks to prioritise conservation.

The party has suggested that national park plans should be prioritised in locations where there are already local campaigns underway such as the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway and Argyll and Bute.

The Scottish Government has insisted there are currently no plans to expand the country’s national parks beyond the two already in place.

Scottish Lib Dems’s environment spokesperson, Rebecca Bell, said: “We are at a tipping point for life on Earth. This year started with apocalyptic wildfires in Australia, and the last six years have included the five warmest years on record. 634 million people are now at risk from rising seas.

“The climate crisis and biodiversity loss are deeply intertwined, in sickness and in health. Through human actions, we have overseen the degradation of the natural world. But with these plans, we can help to restore it.

“Scotland has to rise to the challenge. From the roundabouts in the middle of our cities to the peatlands in the most remote parts of the country, our new proposals would boost biodiversity, conserve our beautiful natural assets and tackle the climate crisis.

“They include powerful symbols of our commitment to making Scotland a sustainable country, setting a course for new national parks, rewilding and the restoration of critical habitats.

"These proposals set out our ambition to live in partnership with nature and demand better for our planet.”

John Thomson, chairman of the Scottish Campaign for National Parks (SCNP) has welcomed the proposals.

He said: "SCNP is delighted that the Lib Dems have recognised the role that an expanded network of national parks could play in addressing the climate emergency and the biodiversity crisis, and in contributing to the green recovery from the Covid-19 epidemic that Scotland so badly needs.

“It is now almost a year since the Scottish Parliament unanimously backed a call for more national parks and we very much hope that all the political parties will include a commitment to establishing a proper suite of them in their manifestos for next May's Holyrood elections.

“We also welcome the Lib Dems' recognition of the local support that already exists for such a move, notably in the south of Scotland, where local groups have been actively campaigning for some time and have demonstrated the widespread backing that the idea enjoys across all communities and age groups."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scotland has already taken decisive action to combat climate change, including investing £250 million over 10 years to restore peatland, and our 2020-21 Programme for Government places a just transition to net zero at the heart of our action on jobs, skills and investment.

“There are no current plans to designate new national parks.”