A National Park in the Borders?

In March this year, a report entitled “Unfinished Business” was published by The Scottish Campaign for National Parks (SCNP) and the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland (APRS). On the back of this report the Southern Uplands Partnership brought together a number of speakers to address a public meeting in Yetholm to discuss the implications of a National Park in the area. The meeting was attended by over 60 people from the surrounding area.

John Mayhew, the author of the report outlined the history of National Parks in Scotland, comparing the Scottish position with that of England and Wales and other countries around the world. He made a compelling case for  the establishment of additional National Parks in Scotland, with  one of these covering the Cheviot Hills in the Scottish Borders.  The rational for the Cheviot National Park was based on the Northumberland National Park stopping at the border while the landscape clearly marches on,  which didn’t make sense particularly when many would say the landscape quality is greater on the Scottish side. Mr Mayhew pointed out that while there would be difficulties in establishing and managing a cross-border National Park with differing legal and administrative structures, international experience shows there is no reason why such a Park could not be established.

The audience also heard from Graham Taylor, who has worked in a number of English National Parks. His experience showed that best results were achieved when the Park Authority worked with local people rather than trying to “control” things.  It was pointed out that planning applications were now more likely to succeed within a National Park that outside one and that on average the local economy of a National Park was 8% greater within the park than outside.

Mairi Bell then spoke of the experience of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Here there were significant issues due to the numbers of visitors and the negative behaviour of a small minority. The Park Authority had been able to work with a wide range of partners to manage these issues. The signs were that things were improving and the aim was now to raise the quality of the experience of the visitor and to maximise the economic benefits to the local communities in a way that protected the natural and cultural heritage.

After a lively question and answer session, the meeting closed with the local community voicing strong support for the idea of a National Park in the Cheviots. It was suggested that this support could usefully be made clear to local politicians and MSPs in the hope that the Scottish Government will adopt the recommendations of the “Unfinished Business” Report and start the process of designating additional National Parks in Scotland.

A full report and copies of the presentations will be uploaded to the website in due course.

EAFS – Environmental Art Festival Scotland 30th August to 2nd September 2013 

Just a quick reminder that the weekend of 30th August to 2nd September is the inaugural Environmental Art Festival Scotland and will be taking place across Dumfries and Galloway. Each of the four days focuses on a particular area where there will be an ‘installation’ for you to experience followed by an evening of discussion around environmental and artistic issues that affect us all, there will also be music and food provided. Booking is essential  for some of the events, the programme can be assessed on  http://www.environmentalartfestivalscotland.com/here-is-your-festival/our-brochure-map/ 

Alternatively why not volunteer to help run the festival;

Being involved in a festival from its very beginning is a great way to gain experience in arts and events management, and we hope volunteers from all walks of life will be able to be part of the festival. The main part of the festival will be in 4 ‘zones’ in the region – Gretna, Barony College, Galloway Forest park and Gatehouse. The festival team is based in Dumfries. Most of your work as a volunteer will be based around these five locations.

EAFS volunteers will assist the team on the following aspects of the festival:

  • Marketing: Distribution and Mailout – may require hours before the 24 Aug
  • Marketing: Social Media
  • Physical Work: Assisting the team and the artists in setting up their art work and/or event, may involve heavy lifting
  • Data Collection during the Festival
  •  Assisting Artists/Events during the Festival

It’s hoped each volunteer will be able to commit at least 16 hours of their time, primarily during the Core Festival (30 Aug – 2 Sep) and/or the week before the festival (24 Aug – 30 Aug).

If you are interested, please fill in the form here.

For more information, visit: http://www.environmentalartfestivalscotland.com/get-involved/opportunities/

Designing a new on-line network for community-led rural development

At Plunkett they are passionate about connecting people working in community-led rural development and they are asking for your help to make it happen.
Whether you consider yourself an active user of social media or find it less useful, they would like your views on how you use social media in your work and what might make you use social media more.

Please help them to build a useful on-line network by answering this short survey as soon as possible (11 quick questions), closing date 20th August .

All information will be anonymous and will be used for the sole purpose of improving our service.  This information will be used in accordance with The Data Protection Act 1998 and will not be distributed to third parties.

The Spirit of Lanarkshire

The Spirit of Lanarkshire Wind Energy Co-operative is a co-operative that gives an opportunity for individuals to get involved in green energy generation.  Falck Renewables have developed two wind farms in South Lanarkshire; one on Nutberry Hill, a six turbine 15MW site, the other is called West Browncastle which is twelve turbines and 30MW on the edge of Whitelee wind farm.  Energy4All has worked with Falck to create an opportunity for people in the local area to invest up to a maximum £2.7m in both these sites.

A co-op is the legal entity which enables a community of members to own assets such as wind turbines. A co-op subscribes to co-operative values which include a commitment to equality, fairness, honesty and social responsibility. It also follows key principles such as operating in a democratic manner  i.e. one member one vote – regardless of how large or small a member’s investment.

In line with these principles, all Energy4All co-ops aim to maximise the social, economic, and environmental benefits of renewable energy schemes to local communities. The Spirit of Lanarkshire would like to encourage people from all over the region to get involved in this co-op and so make a real practical contribution to the fight against climate change while earning a reasonable return on an ethical investment. For more information http://spiritoflanarkshire.coop/home.asp

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