MSPs to consider Cairngorms park issues

CONCERNS over the size and planning powers of the forthcoming Cairngorms National Park will be outlined to MSPs next month.

The Scottish Parliament’s rural development committee is to meet in Kingussie on 11 October to hear evidence regarding the proposed park boundary, the make up of the park board and its powers.

Evidence will be taken from organisations, including Scottish Natural Heritage, the Highland Council, the Scottish Council for National Parks and the Cairngorms Partnership, as well as local individuals. Members of the public will also be given the chance to express views during an open session.

Due to open in March 2003, Cairngorms will be the biggest national park in Britain, slightly larger than the Lake District.

Conservationists have attacked the recommended boundary, saying it will split communities and exclude significant areas of natural beauty. Highland, Moray and Aberdeenshire councils have also criticised plans to give the park board full planning powers instead of splitting them with local authorities.

Alex Fergusson, the committee’s convener, said: "The Cairngorms National Park, if approved, will become the second, and indeed, largest national park in Scotland. The proposals have huge significance to the area and local economy.

"It is imperative that our parliamentary committee holds this meeting within the proposed boundary of the park to hear first hand the views of those who will be most affected by its introduction."

The meeting is part of the consultation exercise being carried out before final decisions are made. The committee will then formally consider the final orders brought forward by the Executive to implement the park, expected later in the parliamentary year.