Furious debate is raging across the countryside as proposals for the next national park are developed before the deadline for submissions on February 29.

At least eight proposals were in development from Ballinuig to Badnoch before a number were pulled after local opposition, including strong criticism from the farming community.

Recent protests from farmers and landworkers in the Cairngorm National Park have highlighted the problems associated with national parks. Another protest is planned for this Saturday in Fort William in opposition to a planned park in the Lochaber area.

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Opposition groups to national parks have sprung up with fearful locals concerned about the restrictions brought with a park authority, unplanned tourism, and a flood of second homes driving away the native population.

One of the longest-standing proposed new national parks is in Dumfries and Galloway, which would be a first in an intensive agricultural area.

Local NFU Scotland regional chair Stewart Wyllie, Hannah Farm, by Annan said: “I am worried this area gets the nod just because the plan has been on the go the longest. Our concerns are the same as in other proposed park areas, but with the key difference is we are an intensive agricultural area and have some of the most productive dairy farms in Scotland. Imagine the milk field of Stewartry at summer silage with queues of cars on the roads; it is bonkers. "We need more information on how this will work, and we have not been given it. We don’t even know if there are defined boundaries yet.

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"We already have the Galloway Forest, the biosphere, and the dark sky area, so why another layer for all the extra cost?”

Concerns such as Mr Wyllie's has caused a number of proposals to hit the buffers. Up in the Highlands, the proposed national park at Ben Wyvis and Glen Affric has been stopped after strong local opposition. The plug was also pulled on a plan for a park in the Strathglass area as the local community council said public opinion was ‘split down the middle’.

Similarly, Borders Council voted down the plan to create a national park within their local authority area.

Earlier in the week representatives of the Portree and Braes community trust, the Broadford and Strath community company, and all four Skye and Raasay Councillors met to discuss a plan for their area.

After the meeting, trust development officer Fiona Thomson told Radio Skye: "Early indications are that the majority of those who participated in the consultation are not in favour of National Park status for Ward 10, and at this stage, there are no plans to submit a formal application."

However, Perth and Kinross Council are taking forward plans for a park in a large area covering upland Perthshire.

Provost of Perth and Kinross Council, Xander McDade, who was previously the chair of the Cairngorm National Park, said: “We have completed a long public consultation process which started in March 2023. As a result of the feedback, the council agreed to proceed with a bid. We see this as a significant opportunity to bring in central government funding for economic development and help build sustainable communities. We are pretty pleased with the level of support which there was across the communities. But it is critical any future park authority will work hand in glove with the land manager community.”

The 50-page consultation results had 352 responses of which 56% were positive towards the proposed new park. However, 78% of all land managers who responded were against the proposal and furthermore 19.2% of respondents lived outside the proposed park boundary.

Deirdre Falconer, the Tayside Moorland Group co-ordinator said: “The 352 responses out of a population of approximately 68,000 is farcical, and in no way is proportionately representative of the people of Perth and Kinross. Having spent thousands of pounds on this consultation to garner 352 responses, it has been a complete waste of money.”

Meanwhile, a private Lochaber council with seven local councillors voted through a proposal for a national park in the area to the next stage.

However, a local opposition group, who are planning a rally this weekend, stated: “Many local residents are very upset and feel very let down by local councillors who voted to put us to the next stage regardless of how opposed we have been to it. It is very disappointing to see many/most other areas dropping out of the nomination as they are listening to their constituents and our area still ploughing on with it regardless.”

NFUS, who have been speaking with their members on the issue, surmised the lead reasons for anxiety about new parks:

- Increase bureaucracy and stifle growth, innovation, and development.

- Increase access-related issues.

- Reduce housing availability for the local population.

- Bring no additional benefits over and above existing policies and legislation.

- Prioritise tourism and visitor access over local farming businesses to the detriment of the rural economy and the natural environment.

Vice president Alasdair Macnab said: “The nomination process for new national parks is causing a lot of concern and confusion for members with regards to what it means for them and their area. Farming and food production are the core of 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 parks.”

Submissions for new parks close next week with submissions from areas such as Affric and Alladale, the Lammermuirs, Largo Bay, and Loch Awe.