Scottish Borders should be a National Park

The Scottish Borders lies between the West Coast Main Line and the East Coast Main Line south of Edinburgh and the new Borders Railway penetrates the heart of this area and could be extended to Carlisle. It is hilly and largely rural, with the River Tweed flowing west to east through it. The highest hill in the region is Broad Law in the Manor Hills. In the east of the region, the area that borders the River Tweed is flat and is known as 'The Merse'. The main towns and villages of Galashiels, Selkirk, Hawick, Jedburgh, Earlston, Kelso, Newtown St Boswells, St Boswells, Peebles, Melrose and Tweedbank are located here too.

Why the contribution is important

This would enhance the tourism potential of this area and encourage use of the Borders Railway to Tweedbank and its potential extension south to Carlisle. The area was made famous by the Waverley novels of Sir Walter Scott and has much fine scenery as well as many cultural attractions including Abbotsford House, Bowhill House, Floors Castle, Mellerstain House, Melrose Abbey, Thirlestane Castle, Traquair House, etc. Many traditional industries could be revived such as tweed in Hawick or salmon fishing on the River Tweed and Teviot, and area is also home to many golf courses and outdoor sport activities. The region is defined as much by the landscape as it is by its spellbinding abbeys, awe-inspiring stately homes and castles, and the time-honoured and truly unique Common Ridings. It's really no surprise that these lands inspired the works of literary greats like Sir Walter Scott and John Buchan. Many of the towns in the area could be "gateway hubs" for sustainable access to the National Park by public transport, walking and cycling. There is potential for steam train excursions running from Edinburgh along the Borders line to Carlisle and returning via WCML similar to the regular steam excursions on the Settle & Carlisle Line in England from various origin points. Alternatively could also return from Carlisle via Hexham and Newcastle and the ECML. So could be a good way to build sustainable tourism in the Scottish Borders. Also could attract visitors from Northern England too. So has a good population catchment on its doorstep that it can serve as a "green lung" and national park.

by ajnaughton on May 20, 2022 at 06:31PM

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Comments

  • Posted by malcolmrdickson May 22, 2022 at 14:55

    The Borders, or a part thereof centered on the old county of Roxburghshire, does indeed meet the criteria in current legislation. But more than that, designation in this part of Scotland would meet a need for regeneration of the economy of the Southern Borders which, despite the attention and additional funding that the South of Scotland and the wider Borderlands have received recently, is still in danger of deteriorating, even without the current threat of a recession. Much of this problem is due to the shrunken industries which once supported a thriving economy right up until the first half of the 20th century, ie woollens and textiles. One of the effects of that decline is that many working age families have had to move elsewhere for employment, resulting in a demography that is trending towards a larger proportion of older people and smaller proportion of economically active people. None of the very welcome additional funding directed at the Borders is permanent, albeit it will create hopefully permanent arms length organisations to continue to try to improve the local economies and life experience. The three most locally valued assets of the Scottish Borders, it's landscape, built heritage and cultural heritage, have not yet been used to fulfil the potential they have to combine and create a huge attraction to UK and global tourists. This is despite the fact that the inter-relationship of these three assets in the Scottish Borders is probably second to none in the UK. Tourists who seek these aspects to be part of their experience of visiting new places know very well what National Park status signifies. NPs are areas where biodiversity and sustainable natural environment, as well as responsible land use and management, are valued and encouraged; they are areas where quality facilities for visitors and residents are provided to encourage responsible access to the countryside and built heritage; and they are areas where local people welcome the opportunities to enhance the visitor experience of a National Park.
  • Posted by ricc45 May 26, 2022 at 13:11

    Scottish Borders has an abundance of landscape, cultural and natural heritage. It has good facilities for tourism. These could easily cope with the increased demand you would expect as an immediate result of designation, and it has the capacity to continue to grow with the demand which would follow, without damage to its cultural and natural assets. This would underpin the economic sustainability of local communities without disrupting them. Partly for these reasons, designation would be virtually costless and the strengthening local economy would make a significant contribution to the Scottish economy. It would be win-win for everyone.
  • Posted by camusfearna May 27, 2022 at 09:45

    There is no such thing as a 'virtually costless' designation if a national park is to have any meaning and be something more than a badge on a sign. Arguably, one of the areas that least requires to be considered for a new national park is the south of Scotland, given that it has recently (April 2020) been provided with a new dedicated enterprise organisation - South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) - as the economic and community development agency for D&G and Scottish Borders. It was established in recognition of the unique circumstances of the South of Scotland and the need for a fresh approach to drive inclusive growth across the area. A criteria therefore should be whether there already exists a dedicated economic and community organisation focused on the area in question. Further, the D&G and Scottish Borders already have in place a number of designated and protected areas for landscape and nature. A National Park in the south of Scotland would add an expensive and unnecessary additional layer of bureaucracy, complicate development planning arrangements and risk interfering with the delivery by SOSE for the region.
  • Posted by malcolmrdickson May 30, 2022 at 12:28

    I hear what you are saying camusfearna, but an enterprise agency should be a vehicle and enabler for other projects and economic regeneration, such as a National Park. SOSE cannot achieve its aims by itself, it must look to ideas such as the Scottish Borders National Park proposal to help do that.
  • Posted by PeterNeuberger May 30, 2022 at 19:17

    The Scottish Government does not actually have much time left to get a National Park up and running by the end of this current parliament in 2026, as promised. There are only two 'oven ready' worked out proposals for a New National part in Scotland, the Galloway proposal and the Scottish Borders proposal. So really one of these has to be the new National Park. My first comment is that Lorna Slater said that the commitment was for "at least" one more NP, which leaves the door open for both these proposals going forward as NP designations. Why not? It can only be good for Scotland and for the South of Scotland in particular. But if I had to choose between the two, I have to say I am confused by the Galloway proposal. The proposed NP is in Galloway, but that is a large area. It is a very varied landscape and the GNPA report seems to lack focus on what makes any part of Galloway special enough for NP status over any other part. It lacks a narrative. It rather depends on an acceptance that there should be a NP in Galloway somewhere and then leave it up to the Scottish Government to figure out where it should be and how big - possibly by a lengthy consultation The Scottish Borders proposal, on the other hand, seems to have a very strong narrative, with a vibrant local culture, a unique history which binds the area together and a very identifiable landscape. The CSNP have
  • Posted by geoffreykolbe May 31, 2022 at 06:20

    Camusfearna, initiatives to boost tourism and the local economy in the South of Scotland have come and gone over the years, and what is there to show for it? What the area needs is a marketing brand that makes visitors stop and stay a while rather than rush on through to Edinburgh and the Highlands. A National Park status will do that in a way all the marketing efforts in the past have failed. Visitors who do tarry in the area are surprised by the great variety of facilities and attractions and the oft used refrain is - "I did not know it was here!" If there was National Park status, people would know it was here and they would know what to expect when they got here. National Parks the world over are a 'kite mark' of impressive scenery, great visitor attractions and lots to do. As for the comment that a National Park would just "add layers of bureaucracy" and "complicate planning arrangements" you have obviously not read the abundant reports on the Scottish Borders National Park website https://www.scottishbordersnationalpark.com/resources/ which show that the old preconceptions of a National Park do not have to apply. The Campaign are proposing that the NP would be wholly within the boundary of the Scottish Borders, so there is no reason why the existing Scottish Borders planning department should not carry on administering the planning as before, with the NP Authority as a statutory consultee. As for "interfering with the delivery by SOSE for the region" that sounds very much like SOSE-knows-best and SOSE should not expect to be guided and informed by local communities and bodies that represent local communities - as a National Park would do.
  • Posted by borbal May 31, 2022 at 06:47

    As someone who visits the area often, I am always struck by the great scenery, the great people, the great history and strong local communities - but also by the lack of visitors. The only real difference between the Borders and the Lake District is that there, visitors are clogging up the roads and you pay £10 for a pint of beer - if you can get to the bar! The bars in the Borders are pleasant, with local people and the beer is much cheaper! Given the two areas are only 50 miles apart, why is there such a difference? One is a National Park and the other is not, perhaps...? Having diligently read through the 'resources' on the Scottish Borders National Park website, one thing that really struck me was that a National Park does not have to be a drain on the National treasure. Sure a National Park would cost money to run and administer, but much of that could be sourced by fund raising in one way or another, and the increased tax take due to the increased visitor spending in the area would, I am sure, more than offset the Scottish Government annual grant. As far as the Scottish Government is concerned, a National Park could be a profitable investment!
  • Posted by camusfearna May 31, 2022 at 11:07

    I don't think the case has been made for the Borders and/or D&G being designated as a national park, requiring the additional expense of an organisation to manage the park, develop strategic plans, coordinate with existing agencies and local authorities and so on. I disagree that for SOSE to be successful it requires the area to be designated as a national park. By that logic, all of Scotland that is supported by a dedicated agency such as SOSE and HIE should be designated a national park. Clearly not sensible or required.
  • Posted by Gorr73 May 31, 2022 at 11:53

    The south of Scotland is best placed to fulfil the purposes of a National Park, as listed in the Scottish legislation. It has all the necessary attributes and its residents have already overwhelmingly endorsed the idea of NP designation for the area in a consultation by Scottish Borders Council as part of Local Plan development
  • Posted by camusfearna June 01, 2022 at 13:28

    I disagree with the proposals that a national park, if it is to be effective and meaningful, would not be a planning authority. Evidence on this point should be sought from the current national parks and their experience of setting the strategic planning direction through local development plans and dealing with all cases (LLTNPA) or the major cases (CNPA). Not being a planning authority risks a national park designation simply being a 'badge' for an area which will cost money to administer but deliver little. Plus in the south of Scotland, a national park presumably wouldn't duplicate the role of SOSE and so would have very limited responsibilities. The relationship with planning policy, including windfarms, are conveniently being ignored by those proposing to cover a very large area across the south of Scotland with a NP designation and thus, on the face of it, prohibit any onshore renewables being deployed in the area and potentially require the removal of existing onshore renewables in the area.
  • Posted by geoffreykolbe June 01, 2022 at 18:46

    One argument that is often put against National Parks - stemming in large part from the experience in other National Parks, particularly Cairngorms - is that the NP Authority impose an agenda on the local population without being sensitive to local issues. There is therefore a strong case that the Authority of a NP should be mainly made up of local people, which is baked into the legislation. Can that be said of SOSE? I am not nearly so sure.... Of course SOSE should and does consult with local communities and bodies which represent local communities. To pretend that the Enterprise agencies essentially carry out the remit of a National Park is clearly not sensible.
  • Posted by Sarsen June 01, 2022 at 19:14

    To help Ministers decide which areas are to be taken forward as Scotland's next National Parks, we need to establish the key criteria areas should meet. We want to build on the Aims in the Act of Parliament which establishes National Parks to: 1. Conserve and enhance nature 2. Promote sustainable use of natural resources 3. Promote understanding and enjoyment 4. Promote sustainable economic and social development We will therefore also be considering why National Park status would improve an area's future, and the level of support for the designation from people within the area. Why the contribution is important We need to have some criteria to use to assess areas for consideration as National Parks. We want the public to add their ideas to our existing criteria. by ScottishGovernment on May 10, 2022 at 10:52AM ******************************************************************** Already some bits of AONB in border regions. But the area is ill-protected, despite it being obviously an extensive area of natural beauty stretching from sea to sea, and from the English border to the northern edge of the Southern Uplands. Also community buyout <check> areas. The Scottish Borders already has in place the four criteria the Act covers with the potential for these to grow further with promotion : 1. Conserve and enhance nature - the Borders has an attractive and varied landscape providing a wide range of ecosystems, but this could be further enriched. 2. Promote sustainable use of natural resources - the landscape, including AONBs, as a resource for walking and cycling and mountain biking, long distance footpaths, quarries, sheep rearing for the woollen industry, salmon and other river fishing. 3. Promote understanding and enjoyment - tourism is already significant, but in an area as relatively empty as the Scottish Borders could be increased without detrimental impact. 4. Promote sustainable economic and social development - the area has struggled from the loss of much of its woollen industry, but remains a centre of excellence for it, and in a time of growing awareness of the damage from plastics, woollens may yet make a comeback; tourism has a lot of potential to grow. But on top of these, the Scottish Borders boasts : - No major post-industrial eyesores - A low population density - Pleasant towns - Places of myth and legend - Thomas the Rhymer, King Arthur, Merlin, Tam Lin. - Visible history where the past has survived into the present - hill forts from the Iron Age (even three broch bases), medieval abbeys, castles and fortified farm buildings from the reiver times, mills from the woollen industry. - Cultural traditions - the Common Ridings and town festival weeks, the ba' games, Rugby (including the Sevens tournaments), the Book Festival. - Proximity to the Central Belt and Northern England.
  • Posted by Sarsen June 01, 2022 at 19:16

    The Scottish Borders already has in place the four criteria the Act covers with the potential for these to grow further with promotion : 1. Conserve and enhance nature - the Borders has an attractive and varied landscape providing a wide range of ecosystems, but this could be further enriched. 2. Promote sustainable use of natural resources - the landscape, including AONBs, as a resource for walking and cycling and mountain biking, long distance footpaths, quarries, sheep rearing for the woollen industry, salmon and other river fishing. 3. Promote understanding and enjoyment - tourism is already significant, but in an area as relatively empty as the Scottish Borders could be increased without detrimental impact. 4. Promote sustainable economic and social development - the area has struggled from the loss of much of its woollen industry, but remains a centre of excellence for it, and in a time of growing awareness of the damage from plastics, woollens may yet make a comeback; tourism has a lot of potential to grow. But on top of these, the Scottish Borders boasts : - No major post-industrial eyesores - A low population density - Pleasant towns - Places of myth and legend - Thomas the Rhymer, King Arthur, Merlin, Tam Lin. - Visible history where the past has survived into the present - hill forts from the Iron Age (even three broch bases), medieval abbeys, castles and fortified farm buildings from the reiver times, mills from the woollen industry. - Cultural traditions - the Common Ridings and town festival weeks, the ba' games, Rugby (including the Sevens tournaments), the Book Festival. - Proximity to the Central Belt and Northern England.
  • Posted by slochd June 03, 2022 at 01:00

    The Scottish Borders has a key asset, not available to Galloway, that should carry weight in the Ministerial decision making and that is the established Northumberland National Park extending up to the border. There is much shared history ( the so called Debatable Lands) and two contiguous areas would help the environment and economy of the Borderlands. Several European and Scandinavian already successfully operate cross border national parks and enjoy shared costs and responsibilities with clear benefits for both parties. Hunting eagles and most visiting tourists to National Parks have little concern over administrative boundaries with experience being their priority.
  • Posted by carlaiolanda1234 June 04, 2022 at 23:52

    Making the Scottish Borders a National Park would lead to increased employment in the area.Not just because the tourist industry and the catering industry would be dealing with increased numbers of clientele but also it would help local businesses gain new employees. Presently the Scottish Borders is not seen by outsiders but it is driven through on the way to Edinburgh and the Highlands - this means that prospective employees from outwith the area, who have the qualifications required that are not met by the local area, do not look at job vacancies within the Scottish Borders favourably. Hence we are loosing businesses which require the employment of professionals and skilled labour. Soon there will be no skilled businesses to support the local community as they can not find employees due to the Scottish Borders not being on the map. We need to show our pride in the region and what it has to offer all walks of life and keep businesses open for the local community.
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