The Scottish Greens' pledge to create at least one new National Park has been hit by a further setback amid claims Highland councillors are not backing Lochaber’s bid. 

A campaign group which opposes the nomination said this could make it difficult for the steering group to progress. 

Councillors are understood to have said in a meeting that they would be "neither expressing support or otherwise" and will remain neutral.

Four areas have already confirmed they will not be taking bids forward as the February 29 deadline draws near.

However, a spokesman for the Lochaber National Park Working Group (LNPWG) said the bid was still being taken forward. 

Skye and Raasay, Affric and Loch Ness, and Wester Ross have joined Ben Wyvis and Glen Affric to withdraw interest citing several and differing factors.

Ben Wyvis and Glen Affric – who pulled out last week – said amid the process, locals consulted felt under-informed and rushed in their decision.

Opposition groups have sprung up online with locals concerned about over-tourism, the increased restrictions that come with a new park authority and rising house prices. 

Areas understood to still be expressing interest to be given the status include Perth and Kinross, Dumfries and Galloway, the Scottish Borders, the Tay Forest, the Lammemuirs, Largo Bay and Loch Awe.

The Herald:

Members of the campaign group, Lochaber National Park - NO more - said a protest against the proposal would be held in Lochaber today (Saturday) as planned.

Debbie Carmichael, who set up the group, said: "As much as it is about stopping a national park, it is about infrastructure needed including a new hospital.

"Our councillors will not be nominating Lochaber as a national park.

"On an expression of interest being put forward, councillors are neither expressing support or otherwise. They are now neutral.

"Without proper and full engagement from all their constituents, this was the correct thing to have done.

The Herald:

"We have received no update from the Lochaber National Park steering group as to their intentions if they are proceeding to nominate Lochaber.

"However it will be put under scrutiny, should that occur."

One of the longest-standing proposed new national parks is in Dumfries and Galloway, which would be a first in an intensive agricultural area.


Local NFU Scotland regional chair Stewart Wyllie, Hannah Farm, Annan, told The Scottish Farmer: “I am worried this area gets the nod just because the plan has been on the go the longest.

“Our concerns are the same as in other proposed park areas, but with the key difference being we are an intensive agricultural area and have some of the most productive dairy farms in Scotland.

"Imagine the milk field of Stewartry at summer silage with queues of cars on the roads – it is bonkers.

“We need more information on how this will work, and we have not been given it. We don’t even know if there are defined boundaries yet.

“We already have the Galloway Forest, the biosphere, and the dark sky area."

Provost of Perth and Kinross Council, Xander McDade, who was previously the chair of the Cairngorm National Park, said: “We have completed a long public consultation process which started in March 2023.

"As a result of the feedback, the council agreed to proceed with a bid.

"We see this as a significant opportunity to bring in central government funding for economic development and help build sustainable communities.

"We are pretty pleased with the level of support which there was across the communities.

"But it is critical any future park authority will work hand in glove with the land manager community.”

John Muir, a Dunbar-born American immigrant, was a key player in the world's first national park, created in the US in 1872.

The Peak District was designated the UK's first in April 1951 under the Clement Attlee-led Labour administration.

It was in 1997, that the then Scottish secretary, Donald Dewar announced the government's commitment to National Parks in Scotland.

The first in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs was launched in 2002 and a year later the Cairngorms, which covers parts of Aberdeenshire, Moray, Highland, Angus and Perth and Kinross

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We have committed to designating at least one new National Park in Scotland by 2026, with communities across the country invited to consider nominating their area to add to our two existing Parks.

“We will not comment on individual applications. The nomination process is ongoing and closes on 29 February.”