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Unique opportunity to get involved in shaping the future of the Cairngorms National Park

12th April 2006

The Draft National Park Plan for the Cairngorms National Park is out for consultation, presenting everyone with an interest in the Park with the opportunity to help shape the future of this special place over the next 25 years.

Deputy Minister for the Environment and Rural Development, Rhona Brankin MSP was in Aviemore on Tuesday 11 April with board members and staff from the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) and key partners – who helped shape the document – to present the Draft Plan and kick start the consultation.

The Draft National Park Plan sets out the long term vision – 25 years – for the Park as a whole as well as the key priorities for the first five years of the Plan, from 2007 to 2012.  Extensive research, consultation and discussions have been undertaken with public sector partners and other interested parties to develop the Plan to this stage.

Now however, it is the turn of the public and other organisations to make their viewpoint known.

The launch took place this morning at the Hilton Coylumbridge Hotel, situated in pretty woodland surroundings and in the shadow of the Cairngorm mountains.  Speaking at the event, Andrew Thin, CNPA Convener said: “The fact that all the organisations and groups who have helped in the creation of this Draft National Park Plan are here today to present the document in this joint way, highlights the spirit of partnership that is vital for achieving the aims of the Park.  It is all too easy to mistake the aims of the Park and the Park Plan as being solely the concern of the Park Authority.

“This is not the case – the four aims of the Park and this Draft National Park Plan, which is now being consulted on, is the concern of every business, organisation and individual with an interest in the Park.  This Draft Park Plan really is a blueprint for joined up government.

“Whatever viewpoint people have and wherever they live, this is their chance to help shape the future of the UK’s largest national park and impact on the quality of the landscape, quality of life and the quality of peoples’ enjoyment and understanding.”

Deputy Minister for the Environment and Rural Development, Rhona Brankin MSP urged the public to have their say on the future of their National Park: “The Cairngorms National Park is a wonderful part of Scotland’s natural heritage, key to the local economy and benefits people’s health.  It is essential that we manage it effectively and sustainably so that future generations can continue to benefit from it.

“It is a place where many people live, work and enjoy themselves.  Its future is in all their hands and I would encourage everyone to have their say in the consultation being launched today.” Speaking after the launch, Jane Hope, CNPA Chief Executive, commented: “We believe that the vision developed in the Draft Park Plan is realistic, achievable and appropriate.  However, we understand that much hard work will have to take place and that every 1,000 mile march begins with a first step.  With the publication of the Draft Park Plan we have made significant strides towards the vision and are now also in a position to state what we want to see delivered in the short term.”

The seven priorities for action in the first five years of the Plan are:
*Conserving and enhancing the Park’s biodiversity and landscapes
*Developing sustainable deer management
*Supporting integrated land management
*Improving high quality opportunities for outdoor access
*Making housing affordable and sustainable
*Making tourism and business sustainable
*Developing awareness and understanding of the Park

* see details at the end of this news item.

Representatives from organisations such as Scottish Natural Heritage, VisitScotland, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Forestry Commission Scotland and local authorities joined Andrew Thin and the Minister for today’s event.

Also there were pupils from Kingussie High School who have already made their viewpoint on life in the Cairngorms National Park known via a film making project funded by the CNPA that involved seven schools in or close to the Park.  Clips from the schools DVD, which was made in partnership with Aberdeenshire Council’s Media Unit, were shown at this morning’s event.

One budding film maker who was there, Dall Amos from Kingussie High School, said: “To say there is nothing for young people to do in the Park would be incorrect, there are lots of opportunities for recreation here, which is great.  However, transportation to and from activity centres is a huge issue, so one thing that I would like to see improved in the Park over the course of the next few years would be a better public transport service.”

Following the consultation, a report summarising the responses will be prepared and the final Park Plan will be developed, with partners for submission, to Ministers at the end of 2006.  This is the first National Park Plan for the Cairngorms and although the Plan looks ahead to 2030, a new series of priorities will be published every five years.

More information on the Draft National Park Plan can be found on the National Park Plan homepage.  A summary guide to what is contained in the Draft Plan, titled ‘Viewpoint’ is also being delivered to every home and business address in the Park.

To get involved in the National Park Plan consultation please contact the CNPA at: National Park Plan Consultation, 14 The Square, Grantown-on-Spey, Moray, PH26 3HG. Tel: 01479 873535 fax: 01479 873527 email: [email protected]

Seven Priorities for Action:

1. Conserving and enhancing the Park’s biodiversity and landscapes – the biodiversity of habitats and species as well as the landscapes of the Park are high amongst its special qualities.  It is vital to ensure their value is retained through work to make them strong, robust and adaptable in order to face future changes.  It is proposed that in five years time important habitats will be better connected to give them a greater change of survival and support more biodiversity.  Threats to habitats and species will be identified and action to conserve them will be set in motion.

2. Developing sustainable deer management – deer stalking is important for the economy of the Park and part of our local culture.  The impact of deer on the Park’s habitats can be seriously damaging.  Deer management in recent years has caused passionate debate.  Consequently, co-ordination and understanding of deer management is essential.  It is proposed that in five years time a Cairngorms Deer Advisory Group will have been established, aiding deer management and communication between land managers, public agencies and communities.  Deer populations will come more into balance with the  bility of habitats to support them without damage.  There will also be co-ordinated marketing of deerstalking and venison.

3. Supporting integrated land management – helping those working in land management to contribute to the aims of the Park will be a continuous process.  There is an opportunity in the immediate future as a result of changing European policy, to simplify support and advice and tailor them to suit the needs of land managers in the Park.  It is proposed that in five years time there will be simpler, less bureaucratic, more transparent, more efficient and better co-ordinated ways for land managers to help enhance the special qualities of the Park.  In particular there will be better support for upland management, food marketing and training and advice.

4. Providing high quality opportunities for outdoor access -the Park’s designation brings an opportunity to integrate management of outdoor access across different areas and sectors of the Cairngorms.  We are intending to bring access up to the excellent standard demanded of such a unique place.  People living in the Park and visiting of all ages, abilities and interests need to be able to understand and enjoy the Cairngorms.  It is proposed that in five years time there will be a plethora of changes such as a higher quality and well promoted network of routes for residents and visitors to enjoy including walking and cycling routes to serve schools and workplaces.  There will be extensions to strategic routes such as the Speyside Way and current and latent demand for public transport routes within and to/from the Park will be assessed.

5. Making housing affordable and sustainable – we know that affordable housing of good quality is a key issue for many of the Park’s communities and this demands immediate action.  Young people and those on low incomes in particular have to be given better opportunities to secure homes in their communities.  The impacts of development have to be managed along with the other needs of the Park.  It is proposed that in five years time there will be provision of effective land in the Local Plan for housing; alternative ways to secure funding and land for housing development including private/public partnerships and the supply of quality, affordable, rented accommodation will be increased.

6. Making tourism and business sustainable – as well as homes for people living in the Park we need thriving businesses and vibrant tourism.  Together they bring jobs and underpin the economy.  The importance of tourism cannot be overstated and a delicate balance will need to be maintained to ensure its economic, social and environmental impacts are all positive.  It is proposed that in five years time there will be, for example, strengthened small business support and training; potential for diversification for more land-based businesses into tourism; a Youth Apprenticeship Scheme and a strengthened Chamber of Commerce.

7. Developing awareness and understanding of the Park – we all have to get across the message that this is a special place; a national asset; and that it has particular management and investment needs.  If we do that, more people will be able to enjoy the Park and understand how we should care for it.  It is proposed that in five years time we will raise awareness of the Park and deliver marketing campaigns which promote specific themes of the Cairngorms.  We will audit all our built heritage and archaeology; better train those who work with visitors and widen access to information through ranger services.  We will come to better understand the natural and cultural resources we have and provide interpretation in communities telling the story of their place in the National Park.