MINISTER for rural affairs and the natural environment, Mairi Gougeon, met with representatives of the Galloway National Park Association (GNPA), Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere and the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership recently, visiting Kirroughtree Visitor Centre, to discuss a potential Galloway National Park.

She was presented with a new report 'Galloway National Park – It’s our time' prepared by the Association setting out why they think it is time to establish such a Park. The report calls for the Minister to commission a feasibility study to examine the case in more detail.

Dame Barbara Kelly of GNPA said: “We were delighted to welcome the Minister to Galloway. It gave us the chance to describe to her the huge potential that exists in an area as beautiful as Galloway for good environmental management to provide the springboard for appropriate and genuinely sustainable economic development.

"We believe that we have shown convincingly that a National Park is just what is needed to galvanise this process. There is plenty of evidence from elsewhere of the economic stimulus that National Parks provide. The tax revenue that this would generate should easily cover the cost of running a Park. But we accept that Government will want to be satisfied that the investment required really will pay off. In our view an independent publicly-led feasibility study is the obvious way to prove this one way or the other and that is what we are calling on Ministers to initiate."

Chair of Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, Joan Mitchell, added: “The recognition by UNESCO of the high quality of this area brings a commitment to sustainable development which works for both people and nature. A National Park would reinforce this and bring in the extra resources and new skills to help we desperately need to achieve our potential.”

Pupils of Douglas Ewart High School delivered a short and impressive presentation on why they believe a National Park is right for Galloway. This was supported by a PowerPoint presentation by pupils from Castle Douglas High School who were unable to attend but were determined to add their voice.

The Douglas Ewart pupils then presented the Minister with the new GNPA publication.

Ms Gougeon said: “I am delighted to be here as this is not a part of the country I know well, and I look forward to giving this report my fullest consideration. Please also be assured that I am happy to come down to Galloway to discuss this at any time.”