MSPs reject Pentlands Hills regional park plans

Plans to enlarge the park to include nearly all of the Pentland hills range were rejected by a Holyrood committee. Picture: Nick Drainey

Plans to enlarge the park to include nearly all of the Pentland hills range were rejected by a Holyrood committee. Picture: Nick Drainey

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MSPs have said they are unconvinced by proposals to extend the boundary of the Pentland Hills regional park.

A Bill introduced by Christine Grahame, MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, sets out plans to enlarge the park to include nearly all of the Pentland hills range.

A Holyrood committee set up to consider the Bill has said it does not support its general principles and has recommended it does not continue to the next parliamentary stage.

The committee concluded there was little demand for the park to be extended, and that doing so would place a greater financial burden on the three councils involved in the management of the current park as a result of increased costs for path maintenance, parking and the ranger service.

“It is clear to us that there are financial pressures on the current management of the existing regional park and it therefore seems illogical to extend it, thus requiring any available funding to be spread more thinly across an enlarged area,” a committee report concluded.

Convener James Dornan said: “There is no doubt Christine Grahame is passionate about protecting the landscape of the Pentland hills for future generations. However, we are not convinced extending the regional park would give this protection.

“It was clear from the evidence given by local authorities that, far from being a simple line on a map, they were concerned the extension could place a very real financial burden on those local authorities involved in the maintenance of the regional park, which could see funding spread even more thinly.

“For a park which plays such an important role in the lives of many people, to do so would have a damaging impact.

“That is why we have decided that we cannot support the general principles of the Bill.”

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