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Park Talk: Brexit & Burning!

19th June 2018

By Peter Argyle, CNPA Convener

As I write the long and rather enjoyable spell of warm, sunny and blue-skied days appears to be coming to an end. The weather has certainly been a major topic of conversation over the past few weeks as we moved from what appeared to be January 109th into summer climes more common on the continent than here.

In almost 42 years living in the north east of Scotland I cannot recall so prolonged a period of fine weather and must confess to having enjoyed it – enjoyment increased by visiting Edinburgh recently for the Scottish Land and Estates Spring Conference and seeing our capital city in mist and haar…oh dear.

The theme of the Conference was Brexit, with a range of excellent speakers discussing different aspects of the situation and the possible impacts for land managers.

Whilst huge uncertainty over the future, over agricultural policy, the support regime post-Brexit, questions over environmental policy and the availability of labour within the sector dominated discussion, there were a few voices expressing greater confidence. I have to say these were very much in the minority.

The importance to our economy of the food sector – including agriculture – was also well emphasised, with one speaker saying that 1:8 of the UK population is involved in food manufacturing and the supply chain.

What is absolutely beyond question is that leaving the EU will lead to profound changes within the land management sector; what those changes will be and exactly what impact they will have is unknown and that uncertainty is weighing heavily.

The long dry spell since January 109th has of course increased the risk of wild fire across Scotland and there have been a number of incidents, within the Park and elsewhere.

I was very concerned to see that a wild fire- rapidly dealt with by the Fire and Rescue teams and others fortunately – on the Muir of Dinnet NNR in Aberdeenshire was very probably caused by a disposable barbeque.

It is timely to think about the use of these in the countryside and the very real risks they pose, either in use of by being disposed of carelessly. When conditions are as dry as they are at the moment, the chances of wildfire and massive damage to our environment are greatly increased. I would urge everyone to be cautious in their use.

And finally I must mention the heroic achievement of our Head of Land Management Will Boyd-Wallis who has become (probably) the first person to make a solo navigation of the boundaries of the Park.

Will took 22 days to walk the 270 miles, much of it across pathless landscapes, through both mist and sunshine. A tremendous achievement. Thus far Will has raised some £8000 for the Cure Parkinson’s Trust, well on the way to his target for the venture. On behalf of everyone at the CNPA I would congratulate Will and look forward to hearing more about his journey.

So that’s it; a column full of sunshine, Brexit, Edinburgh haar, wildfire and a walk on the wild side…. who could ask for more?