Tuesday, 28 June 2016

BIG PARK BIG QUESTIONS – WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR THE CAIRNGORMS NATIONAL PARK?

There are some big issues in the Cairngorms National Park. How do we provide much needed affordable housing and reduce the proportion of second homes? How to we balance the varying land management objectives across the UK’s largest National Park? How do we tackle flooding? How can we help people be healthier, communities be empowered and ensure the best possible experience for our visitors?
This is a big Park – covering six per cent of Scotland – with big questions needing answered and the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) wants to hear what you have to say.
Big Park Big Questions is the consultation on the next Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan (NPPP) for 2017-22. The Cairngorms NPPP is a management plan for the whole Park, setting out a vision and overarching strategy for managing the area. It sets out how all those with a responsibility for the Park will co-ordinate their work to tackle the most important issues.
With help from nine 9-year olds from Kingussie Primary School – the Park’s custodians of the future – the CNPA Convener Brian Wood and Chief Executive Grant Moir launched Big Park Big Questions this morning (Monday 27th June), with the consultation set to focus on nine key issues. These are:
·        Landscape Scale Conservation – looking at woodland expansion and habitat enhancement.
·        Deer and Moorland Management – how do we balance grouse moor and deer management with wider habitat and species diversity?
·        Flood management – what can be done to reduce the impacts of flooding?
·        Visitor infrastructure – looking at where investment is needed to ensure the best possible experience for visitors.
·        Active Cairngorms – how can we use or improve our infrastructure in the Park to encourage people to be active and healthy?
·        Learning & Inclusion – ensuring every child in Scotland gets to visit the Cairngorms National Park.
·        Community Capacity – looking at how we provide the best opportunity for local people to work together on shared priorities by giving consistent and clear support.
·        Housing – how can we work together to provide more affordable homes balanced against the need to protect what is special about the Park?
·        Economic Development – looking at infrastructure investment, education, tourism, forestry and renewable energy opportunities. 
Speaking at the launch this morning Brian Wood, Vice-Convener of the CNPA explained: “Big Park Big Questions does not try to cover everything that happens in the Cairngorms National Park but instead, we are outlining the big issues on which we want peoples’ views.
“The National Park Partnership Plan will set out the priorities for all those involved in managing the Park. It is extremely important that we have a wide range of input from partners, communities, businesses and the general public to ensure that the Cairngorms National Park continues to thrive for people and nature.
“Partners are already delivering a great deal of work to enhance conservation, improve outdoor access infrastructure, enhance the visitor experiences and support rural development. The questions raised in the consultation reflect the issues facing communities within the Park but also the big questions about how the Cairngorms National Park benefits people across Scotland.”
Scottish Natural Heritage Chairman Ian Ross said: “The Cairngorms National Park is an area of global significance, stunning scenery and home to a diverse range of important species which make an important contribution to Scotland’s biodiversity.
“At Scottish Natural Heritage we recognise the importance and value of the emerging Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan and particularly where we can get involved with partners and land managers in developing landscape scale conservation projects – projects which will help in the delivery of both significant natural heritage improvements and a range of wider public benefits – such as health improvement, tourism and natural flood management.”
Mark Tate Chief Executive of the CBP said: “It is really important that the businesses who drive the economy of the park engage in this consultation and provide input on the matters important to us. Our visitor driven economy exists because of our stunning natural heritage, it is really important that we protect this.
“There are challenges and we are delighted housing has been highlighted as one of the Big 9 issues. More access to affordable housing for the people who live, work in and look after our National Park is vital; the current situation is undoubtedly an inhibitor to growth. We would like to broaden this debate to include office and business accommodation to help attract investment in the Park, the visitor economy is a huge strength that we must build on. We must also look to diversify and attract more non tourist businesses to this inspirational environment. At the CBP we will be doing our bit to help members engage and provide a collective voice we would also encourage businesses to engage directly in this important consultation.”
Roger Clegg of the Association of Cairngorms Communities commented: “Public consultations are not without their dangers but these nine questions help to give focus to this exercise by concentrating on areas which are important to the development of the National Park. Ultimately the success of the Park relies on having thriving communities and therefore it is vital that as many people as possible from all walks of life share their views.”
Big Park Big Questions gets underway today for a period of 14 weeks, closing on 30th September. Following this, the proposed NPPP will go before the CNPA board before being submitted to Ministers for approval in the spring of 2017.

You can get more information on the Cairngorms National Park Authority website www.cairngorms.co.uk and keep up to date on Twitter via @cairngormsnews using #BigParkBigQuestions.