NFU Scotland remains committed to opposing the creation of a new national park amid concerns about the impact on the rural economy.

The organisation says its position is based on the experience of many farmers and crofters currently living and working in either the Cairngorms National Park or the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.

A packed meeting of more than 100 farmers, crofters, and local stakeholders on Skye unanimously indicated they did not support the creation of a national park in their area.

As the move towards the creation of a national park gathers momentum, NFUS is holding a member information webinar on Monday, February 5, at 6.30pm as it warns that community views must be considered.

In a recent consultation with members, responses indicated that existing parks had failed to make a positive contribution to farming and crofting.

Among the responses, members raised a range of issues, with the majority concerned that a new national park would increase bureaucracy and stifle growth, innovation and development, increase access-related issues, reduce housing availability and prioritise tourism and visitor access over local farming businesses to the detriment of the rural economy and the national environment.

NFUS is calling for independent evidence of the value that existing parks bring to farmers, crofters and the local community and a similarly robust case why the national park outcomes cannot be achieved by other existing funding programmes such as VisitScotland, Rural Land Use Partnerships and regional enterprise bodies.

Vice president Alasdair Macnab, said: “Farming and food production are highly important to Scotland’s rural economy and are the key drivers of the local community and landscape management that draws in other opportunities.

“This must be a major consideration when assessing nominations for new national parks.

“Meaningful involvement of the local community at each stage in the nomination process is key but that is not being delivered by many of the proposed bids.”

Feedback from members in existing national parks is that there has not been enough focus on local views and where community involvement was present, it was tokenistic.

“That must not happen this time round. Wider community views must be considered not just the nomination group views that are presented when bids go in for the creation of new parks. This is necessary to avoid polarised views within a community leading to groups feeling disenfranchised and that a national park is imposed on them.

“In the concerning absence of any detail on how new national parks are to be funded in the face of the current national fiscal pressures, and the potential that another layer of complexity and bureaucracy will be laid on farmers and crofters, we believe the means to achieve the same outcomes are already in place and the benefits should be shared across the whole country.

“The nomination process for new national parks is causing a lot of concern and confusion for members with regard to what it means for them and their area. If your area is proposing a new national park, I urge you to attend the online meeting on Monday to hear about the process, what the NFUS position is, and what NFUS is doing to support members and lobby on their behalf on this issue.”

Registration for the webinar can be found here