Edinburgh council urged to back plan to make Pentland Hills Scotland's next National Park
A bid was being launched today to designate the Pentland Hills as a new National Park.
SNP councillor Neil Gardiner has tabled a motion calling on the Edinburgh City Council to back the idea and get officers to start preparing the case to present to the Scottish Government. Ministers announced last year they would create at least one new national park during the course of this parliamentary term.
Cllr Gardiner, who represents the city’s Pentland Hills ward and has chaired the Pentland Hills Regional Park Joint Committee, said: “How about Pentland Hills as a National Park? We are lucky to have such magnificent countryside so nearby. The Pentland Hills, visible from many parts of Edinburgh and surrounding settlements, currently form a much loved Regional Park.
“In welcoming Scottish Government’s call to consider establishing new National Parks, my own motion to Edinburgh Council asks council officers to bring a report to the Pentland Hills Regional Park Joint Committee. This will consider the merits and the practicalities of nominating the Pentland Hills as a potential national park."
He said the report should cover issues such as safe and sustainable access from urban populations near to the park; high quality, well maintained path networks within the park; how the park can accommodate sustainable land uses and employment in addition to recreation and health benefits to the region.
Cllr Gardiner said: “The health and wellbeing benefits of having large areas of protected countryside, parts of which are available for informal countryside recreation is understood. Recently Scottish Government agencies have provided supportive funding for upgrading some facilities at the park, which has over half a million visitors every year.”
“Managing the Pentlands Hills is a balance between the needs of those who work the land and visitors. The potential resources available as a National Park status can assist this. We need also to consider sustainable access and upgrading of paths in the park. How land is managed to increase bio-diversity and mitigate against climate change are also vital considerations.
“If the next steps are approved I anticipate broad engagement with the many stakeholders from farmers and businesses to visitors and conservationists.”
The plan to designate a new national park by 2026 was part of the agreement which brought the Greens into government with the SNP. Biodiversity Minister and Lothian Green MSP Lorna Slater said in May: “It is almost two decades since Scotland’s first National Parks in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and the Cairngorms were established. Both are home to some of the country’s most outstanding scenery, are internationally important areas for nature and receive millions of visitors each year. They work hard to tackle the biodiversity and climate crisis, help manage facilities for visitors, promote responsible access and develop sustainable communities. They have become jewels in Scotland’s crown, and now is the time to add to them.”
The government said at the time it was aware of at least 10 communities or groups which had expressed interest in National Park status.