National park meeting called

Looking across to The Cheviot Hills.
Looking across to The Cheviot Hills.

A public meeting next month will look at the pros and cons of the Cheviots becoming a national park (NP).

The meeting has been called by the Southern Upland Partnership (SUP) following a report earlier this year suggesting the area should be considered for NP status.

But Roxburghe Estates, which owns much of the land in the area, urges caution.

Factor Roddy Jackson said: “Any proposal for NP designation needs to analyse fully the benefits and costs so an informed view can be made. NP status involves additional state intervention in the management and use of land. There is already a high level of landscape protection afforded to the Cheviots and rightly so.”

The area is a National Scenic Area, a conservation designation run by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and has Area of Great Landscape Value (AGLV) protection.

Mr Jackson said both Scottish Borders Council (SBC) and SNH had measures in place “to ensure adequate protection for sensitive areas”.

He continued: “When Scotland’s NPs were created, many of these important safeguards were not in place. So one has to question what purpose would be served by introducing further red tape in land management through NP designation.

“NP is more than just a title – it involves the creation of a whole new layer of planning. For this reason any proposal needs to be very carefully analysed, something this report fails to do.”

The report, entitled ‘Unfinished Business’ was published by The Scottish Campaign for National Parks (SCNP) and the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland (APRS) in the spring.

In it, the two charities argue that Scotland’s two existing national parks – Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, established in 2002, and the Cairngorms, set up the following year – have proved their worth and that it is now time for more.

In the report, author John Mayhew notes the southern flanks of the Cheviots in England are included in the Northumberland National Park, but the Scottish side have only the “limited protection” of the AGLV.

“However, the landscape quality of the northern side is as great as, if not greater than, that to the south, so there would be a great deal of sense in extending the Northumberland National Park into Scotland,” he says.

Mr Mayhew and former Northumberland National Park Authority chief executive Graham Taylor will be speaking at the meeting in Yetholm.

A spokesperson for SBC said: “The council is aware of the work undertaken by the ARPS and the proposed meeting organised by SUP, and will continue to monitor events.”

SUP project manager Pip Tabor said: “We need to do something to acknowledge and protect the high-quality landscape of the Scottish Cheviot Hills, but I am not sure if full NP status would be the answer. There may be better ways of doing this.

“It’s just really important for people to come along and to have the debate.”

The meeting takes place between 7-9pm on Wednesday, August 14, in the Yetholm Youth Hall.