Scotland's original national park sets out green vision

Air source heat pumps, solar panels, fully electric vehicles and a hybrid-powered patrol boat are among a number of measures being rolled out in Scotland’s original national park in a drive to slash greenhouse gas emissions.

They come as part of a new strategy unveiled by Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority, which sets out a route map for achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 – 15 years ahead of Scotland’s national target and 20 years ahead of the UK goal.

Major investment will be ploughed into the scheme, including £200,000 in the coming year alone.

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Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park covers 720 square miles across four local authority regions, and the park authority manages visitor facilities, offices and a fleet of vehicles to patrol the vast area.

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority has unveiled plans to speed up action to tackle climate change

Greenhouse gas emissions have already been cut by 38 per cent since 2014, but the Mission Zero route map will see efforts stepped up.

Immediate plans include bringing in additional electric vehicles and an electric hybrid boat for patrolling Loch Lomond.

Nature-based projects such as tree-planting and peatland restoration could also be used to offset climate impacts where emissions cannot be entirely removed.

Both offer natural ways of absorbing and storing carbon from the atmosphere, but degraded peatland can actually release emissions.

A fleet of fully electric vehicles, renewable energy schemes and a hybrid-powered patrol boat are among a number of measures being rolled out in Scotland’s original national park in a major push to slash greenhouse gas emissions

Gordon Watson, chief executive of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority, stressed the need to ramp up efforts to tackle climate change.

He said: “The Scottish Government declared a global climate emergency in 2019 and set out its ambition to become a net-zero nation by 2045.

“As a public body, and as a national park authority for whom protection of the environment is a core aim, we are confident that we can play our part by reaching net zero 15 years ahead of that target.

“Whilst we have seen some real progress in reducing our emissions, we know that now is the time to redouble our efforts and strengthen our commitment to Scotland’s future.

Dr Heather Reid, science education consultant and former Met Office and BBC Scotland weather forecaster, is a board member for national park authority and is sponsoring its Mission Zero work

“We have a clear route map outlining how we will achieve net-zero over the next decade – involving a real step change in how we operate so that emissions reduction is at the heart of our decision-making.

“With this goal in sight, we will dramatically reduce the emissions associated with the work we undertake, the services we deliver and those arising from across the land and buildings we manage.”

In addition to infrastructure changes, all national park authority staff, volunteers and board members will be encouraged to consider how their behaviour can support carbon-cutting goals.

Progress will be continuously monitored and the organisation will seek to achieve net-zero sooner than 2030 if possible.

The authority’s strategy is an important step towards wider ambitions for the whole of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park to achieve net-zero.

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The area has been hit by increasingly frequent flooding and landslips, causing serious damage to people’s homes, communities and businesses, and where ecosystems have been threatened by the changing climate.

Dr Heather Reid, science education consultant and former Met Office and BBC Scotland weather forecaster, is a board member for the authority and is sponsoring the Mission Zero work.

She said: “The growing impacts of the climate emergency have been all too real for those living, working and visiting the national park, and tackling climate change has been a priority for us for a number of years.

“Alongside our investment in green infrastructure and technology, we will continue to support everyone here at the national park authority to champion emissions reduction in the actions we all take, ensuring that Mission Zero is everyone’s responsibility, and opportunity, to achieve.

“Mission Zero will influence how we work as an organisation and will also build motivation and momentum to drive positive and coordinated climate action across the national park, making it an important step towards the national park itself becoming a net-zero place.”

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park was set up in 2002, becoming the first of its kind in Scotland.

Cairngorms National Park was established a year later, then extended in 2010 to become the largest in the UK – stretching across 1,748 square miles.

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