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Economic Action Plan for stronger and more inclusive National Park economy

27th June 2019

There are many challenges to ensuring the Cairngorms National Parks economy is strengthened in an inclusive and sustainable way.  The new Economic Action Plan (EAP) – which is out for consultation now – aims to ensure that the Park has a sustainable economy that supports thriving businesses and communities.

The Cairngorms National Park EAP sets out five priority themes to provide focus, not only for the Cairngorms National Park Authority, but all the partners involved including local authorities, the enterprise networks, other public sector bodies, land owners and business and community groups.

From promoting investment in infrastructure and supporting and attracting business, as well as working more closely with education and training providers, the EAP sets out the economic priorities for the National Park over the coming years.

These include:

  • A comprehensive plan for enhancement of infrastructure and capital investment
  • The promotion of the living wage within the National Park
  • Enhancing Community and business-led housing delivery.
  • Promoting planning and investment in the diversification of ski centres.
  • Helping businesses adapt to climate change.
  • Investment in local enterprise development including farm diversification.
  • Working especially closely with young people to maximise opportunities and address barriers to living and working in the Park.

There are key challenges in relation to housing, ensuring a working-age population, a heavy reliance on the tourism industry for employment as well as uncertainty around Brexit and concerns about climate change and biodiversity loss.

Murray Ferguson, Director of Rural Development at the CNPA said: “The Economic Action Plan will support business activity and a sustainable and inclusive economy within the Park. We all want to keep and attract young and working age-people to live and work in the National Park to ensure a sustainable future for our businesses and communities.

“It is the natural assets of our Park that make it such an attractive place to live and to visit and we must ensure that the development of the Parks economy is done in a sustainable and inclusive way to complement our key competitive advantage – the environment.

“I would therefore encourage anyone with a particular interest in the health of our economy – whether it’s from the perspective of a business, a local landowner, a community enterprise or from an education and training point of view – to please get involved and have your say on how we achieve a strong and thriving economy for years to come.”

The Cairngorms National Park covers six per cent of Scotland and is the UK’s most important place for wildlife and nature conservation. It is also home to around 18,000 people and attracts 1.8 million visitors per year. But house prices are 30 per cent above the Scottish average and yearly earnings are at 26 per cent below. There are also limitations around both physical and digital connectivity, increased logistics costs, lack of higher education facilities and an aging population – all of this presenting policy makers with challenges.

Xander McDade, CNPA Convener said: “With challenges come opportunities and we are seeing some excellent examples of business confidence and inward investment such as the redevelopment of the Fife Arms in Ballater and the proposals for a new distillery at Grantown-on-Spey. The Park Authority has also secured significant funds in recent times from organisations such as the National Heritage Lottery Fund, Sustrans and Peatland ACTION so we have strong foundations to build on going forward.”

To have your say on the Cairngorms National Park Economic Action Plan please go here. The consultation closes on 20th September 2019.