Landowners have said they are ready and willing to be even greater delivery partners over the course of the next five-year plan for the Cairngorms National Park.
Scottish Land & Estates has submitted its response to the Cairngorms National Park Authority’s Big Park Big Questions consultation which will shape the next partnership plan between 2017 and 2022. Working with the Park Authority and others they envisage a bright future for conservation, business and social interests in Scotland’s largest National Park.
The organisation said its members were ready to respond to the challenges identified in the consultation – but recognition also needed to be given on the positive role private estates have played, and will continue to play, in shaping the region.
Anne Gray, Senior Policy Officer (Land Use & Environment), said: “The consultation recognises most of the big questions that are faced by the Cairngorms National Park over the next five years and it should be acknowledged that the Park Authority approaches these challenges from a position of strength. Private landowners are already willing delivery partners and can play a vital role in collaborating and assisting in the aspects of the Park which need to be strengthened. Our members though would also like to see the final plan recognise the role of agriculture and heather moorland in shaping the special character of the Park, and to rise to the challenges of ensuring a sustainable future for these land uses.
“We have seen partnerships in the park that deal with matters of conservation, such as the Cairngorms Moorland Partnership and Cairngorms Connect. These have been inclusive models that have encouraged buy-in from many parties and anything that can break down barriers when trying to achieve a common goal has to be welcomed.
“While there is always a range of views as to how land should be managed, particularly within our national parks, we have advocated a pragmatic response that can improve our environment but does not place unworkable restrictions on the working countryside.”
Scottish Land & Estates said that it was also important that attention is given to many of the ‘day-to-day’ issues that affect those who live and work in the park.
Ms Gray continued: “Improving the infrastructure is of vital importance for those who live and work in the park. They understand what is needed by local economies to improve their provisions, especially with regards to tourism, and we still see frustration that broadband and mobile network services are not of the standard that they should be.
“Similarly, our members are ambitious to provide new facilities throughout the park that would attract more visitors. Activity tourism, for example mountain bike trails on estates, has been highlighted as something estates are keen to invest their own money into but there is a reluctance to do so if sufficient investment into the wider infrastructure – including roads and communications – is not being made, and while there is still question marks over their ability to charge for the use of such facilities.
“Overall, there was a feeling of optimism that the partners in the park were well-placed to meet the challenges of the next five years but certainly an acknowledgement that in certain infrastructure matters, progress needs to move up a gear.”
A copy of the consultation response can be read below.