Last week, the Tory Government at Westminster published an 8 – Point Plan for National Parks in England http://www.cnp.org.uk/sites/default/files/uploadsfiles/National%20Parks%20Plan.pdf
In the introduction it states the Government has an “ambition to put National Parks at the heart of the way we think about the environment”.
Contrast this level of interest with this week’s Political Hustings in the Sunday Herald which gave the political parties a chance to consider “all things environmental”. Aileen McLeod, the Environment Minister, wrote the SNP contribution which was limited to repeating what the Government has done so far on climate change (no new commitments) and a statement a future SNP Government would increase the Climate Justice fund to £3m a year. Her poverty of imagination is illustrated by the issues mentioned by Mark Ruskell for the Greens: sea and air pollution, including pesticides; warm homes; fracking; environmental jobs; greener farming through changing subsidies and land reform; food poverty; green spaces and wildlife persecution. Sarah Boyack said Labour would protect air, water and food but spent most of her piece attacking the SNP record on fracking rather than saying what Labour would do. Only RISE mentioned re-wilding and only the Tories mentioned landscape, two issues which should be central to the future of our National Parks.
The Scottish Tories, in line with their party south of the border, are even calling for an extension of National Parks, something that the SNP Government included in their last election manifesto but have never progressed. While some of the ideology behind the Tories 8-Point Action Plan makes me cringe – “National Parks are the soul of Britain. They are the centre of our imagination. When people think of Britain, wherever they are, they imagine these landscapes” – they have picked up on something, that landscapes are very important to people. The other political parties in Scotland have missed this almost completely. Our politicians have been treating the performance of our existing National Parks as a management, not an environmental or political issue.