Democratic renewal and our National Parks

December 15, 2016 Nick Kempe 1 comment

If you have not read it, I would commend the lecture Andy Wightman gave last week on the case for a renewal of Scottish democracy.  I am not a member of any political party, the lecture does not mention National Parks but what it says is, I believe, entirely relevant to our National Parks and the issues that are covered on parkswatch, from the need for transparency to corporate power.   I was particularly struck by the following extract:


Parkswatch is a blog, a platform for critical thinking (and I hope debate) about National Parks but in covering issues I and other contributors have made demands and suggestions of what need to change.  Much of this has been in response to what the Parks are doing or failing to do.  Its reactive.  I think Andy is right.  Those who care about our National Parks need to scale up their engagement and to start to take initiatives.


While our National Park authorities continually talk about local communities, its been pretty clear where the power has been to date and there has been very little sign of bottom up initiatives.  There are though signs of change.  The best example I can think of is the Save the Ciste group, who have been developing their own plan for Cairngorm and are now openly thinking about alternative ownership and control of Cairngorm.  A major challenge to the powers that be.   I think we need lots more of that in our National Parks:


  • how about an alternative to Flamingo Land at Balloch instead of waiting for the developer to come up with their own proposals?
  • how about developing some alternative plans for some of the large landed estates, such as Dinnet, to restore missing species and repair the damage that has been done through the unlawful creation of bulldozed tracks?  Re-wilding plans.
  • how about some plans to restructure the blanket afforestation in the western part of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park that is again devoid of wildlife.  Instead of waiting for Forestry Commission Scotland to do something, why not go for it?
  • what about communities in Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park taking the previous plans for campsites there that have been abandoned by the LLTNPA and, in partnership with recreational organisations, deciding good places for campsites and then demanding the LLTNPA gives them the resources to deliver it?
  • what about alternative guidance for hydro schemes, not just design standards but about where they should be located in our National Parks?


Parkswatch is not an organisation but if individuals or organisations have ideas for injecting “a bit of risk, danger, excitement and creative energy” into our National Parks, please contribute them.

1 Comment on “Democratic renewal and our National Parks

  1. The savetheciste group aim to halt the decline of the Cairn Gorm Mountain business. We’d do this by upscaling activities, investing in staff and renewing facilities. The strategy that has been in place now for almost 2 decades is a demonstrable failure and it’s clear that HIE do not have the vision or expertise to make the change of strategic direction.
    It’s our view that the maximisation of zero hours contracts and paying minimum wages is not the way to motivate people. We also question why a business that is in receipt of significant public funding has not signed up to the Living Wage Charter.
    A community group, as a non profit seeking organisation, would reinvest all surpluses of income over expenditure to the benefit of employees, the wider Strathspey economy and the customer experience.
    We’ll continue to robustly challenge the present leasing arrangements and seek to bring about the changes that many, many people wish to see.
    You can read more at:
    Please lend us your support if you are like minded.

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