Speech in the Scottish Parliament
14 June 2011
The Cairngorms National Park is indeed one of the most iconic and beautiful destinations in Europe.
For so long we did not have National Parks in Scotland.
The first steps to creating National Parks in Scotland came under Donald Dewar’s leadership.
I was a member the rural affairs committee that oversaw the passage of the National Parks Bill in 2000.
Because of this and because the Cairngorms National Park is in my region I have taken a close interest in their progress
I remember the long debates we had in committee during the passage of the bill,
What the role the Park Authority should have in relation to “promoting economic and social development”; tensions between the Parks role in protecting the environment and the more social and economic aspects of their remit.
Many people living in our most iconic and beautiful places sometimes feel they are the endangered species.
That is why the Parks aims were to integrate the social, economic and environmental and promoting sustainability.
There were also concerns about how this would work in practice and how the Park would interact with stakeholders.
Tonight we will hear from the Cairngorms Buisiness Partnership which is one of the many stakeholder groups that not only interact with the board but are integral to the success of the Boards work and that of the Park.
The Cairngorm National Park is a special place. We have fantastic landscape and wildlife which people come to marvel at and to enjoy – but it is also special because these places are the heart of our economy.
This is due to the work and dedication of the Board and the many Stakeholders – who have used the legislation, created by this Parliament, to create a Park that is a success in every sense of the word.
Encouraging students to learn about their environment is integral to the Curriculum for Excellence.
Therefore the Parks work in creating a Learning Zone on their website is an excellent resource – as are the many of their other educational projects.
Our National Parks need to be accessible to all, we must all benefit from the health benefits of accessing our beautiful landscape.
The Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust ensures that we have a quality path network as well as increasing accessibility.
Volunteers lead walks – giving up their own time – and I would like to pay tribute to their work also.
When the Park was officially opened in 2003 Andrew Thin said that this must be a Park for All.
That it must not be a park for the fit and few; but one that is welcoming, accessible and enjoyable for all.
So I am very pleased, and proud, to see the Cairngorms National Park being such a force for good.
It is only 8 years old but has already achieved much – this must augur well for the future.