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Park Talk: The Big 9

19th August 2016

By Peter Argyle, CNPA Convener

The legislation that established National Parks in Scotland did not give significant powers to the Authorities established to manage and direct them. It could be argued that beyond Planning and Access powers, National Park Authorities have almost no ‘powers’ at all.

We cannot ‘give orders’ or ‘issue instructions’; instead we work through co-operation and in (an over-used word these days) partnership. Which is a good thing as I believe this makes the CNPA a more effective organisation and helps foster better working relationships throughout the Park.

The CNPA works with others, be that local authorities, other agencies, the Scottish Government or, importantly, the communities within the Park; without forgetting the ‘communities of interest’ outwith the Park which can keep a very close watch on what happens here. It is a National Park.

I believe that the CNPA has come a very long way in building up these vital relationships since that misty September day when the new Board gathered on Cairngorm to listen as the Minister officially launched the Cairngorms National Park. The most important tool we have in delivering this work is the National Park Partnership Plan (NPPP).

The NPPP sets out clearly how we will work with all our partners, and what we expect of them in return. Since it is signed off by the Scottish Government it is a vital strategic document against which our collective delivery can be measured.

We are now in the process of drawing up the new NPPP, for the period 2017 to 2022. The first, keenly important, stage is to seek the views of communities and other partners about what they see as the major issues the new NPPP should address.

This consultation – Big Park, Big Questions – is open now and will close on 30th September. It raises 9 Big issues facing the Park which will have to be tackled over the next 5 years.

And we do most genuinely want to hear from you.

The 9 big issues impact on everyone within the Park, from Housing and Economic Development to Flood Management, Moorland Management or Supporting Communities.

These are the nine issues that the Board agreed are the major ones; there may be other topics that you would wish to see raised. The Big 9 are not exclusive so we want to hear about everything you consider to be important. This really is your opportunity to influence what will be done in the Park, not just by the CNPA but by all of our partners – the Councils, SEPA, SNH and so on – through to 2022.

Once the consultation closes, the work on drafting the proposed NPPP will commence in earnest so that it can be submitted to Scottish Ministers for their consideration and approval in the Spring of 2017 – and that will be upon us soon enough.

The author Jerome K Jerome had a fairly cavalier view of work, something he famously could sit and watch all day. He also wrote, “I like deadlines. I like the fluttering noise they make as they pass by.” With all respect to the late JKJ, please don’t let this deadline flutter by you. Do let us know what you think on all of these vital issues before the end of September so that you can help shape the future direction of this unique and utterly stunning part of Scotland.