A large chunk of the southern Borders should be given National Park status to help protect and boost the region’s fortunes.
The Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland (APRS) and the Scottish Campaign for National Parks have been campaigning for more National Parks in Scotland and believe the Cheviot Hills is one possible area that would be suitable for NP status.
The APRS is now canvassing local community councils within the tentative boundaries suggested for a new National Park for their views.
In the letter to councils, Professor Jane Bower, vice-chair of the APRS and a Newcastleton area resident, says the Borders is already well supplied with the amenities, activities and facilities expected in a National Park.
“Public and private investment has already supplied the infrastructure. There is no need for massive expenditure. What is needed is the designation which it clearly deserves – National Park – which would highlight the merits of the area,” she states.
“The designation of the area would capture the attention of potential visitors and focus their interest on its assets and the facilities which make it attractive.”
The National Park designation, she says, would bring more visitors, in turning generating a substantial economic spin-off for the area.
Farms and forestry operations within the National Park, she says, would also benefit from increased grant aid and outlets for produce.
Professor Bower adds that, contrary to popular expectations, surveys of UK National Parks found that a higher proportion of planning applications within parks were approved than outside them. And she said most residents did not find restrictions excessive and, in general, planners were keen to encourage businesses and residents to stay and prosper within the park.
Quality of life for those living within the boundaries of a National Park were also rated as high.
“The quality of life in Scottish Borders is enviable, and worth keeping that way,” she added.
Rob Armstrong, a community councillor in the Denholm area, is one of those backing the APRS campaign: “It’s early days yet, but the aim is to raise awareness of the campaign and see what people think of having a National Park in the Borders.
“The Borders is such a beautiful place and being a National Park would help safeguard that, as well as create a major asset for the region. The Borders is still so unspoilt in so very many ways, but it is also changing in many ways and at a rapid pace.
“The Borders is starting to open up – the new railway will help that – but a lot could be lost unless it is protected now.”
z Anyone wishing to give their views on the proposal can submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org