The move to add another national park in Scotland has taken a step forward with five bids on the shortlist.

Locations in the Scottish Borders, Galloway, Lochaber, Loch Awe and Tay Forest will now be assessed for suitability.

Each proposal will now be appraised by the Scottish Government against the published criteria and further consultation will be held once a preferred site is identified, expected to be in the summer.

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The Scottish Government committed to designating at least one new park by 2026, to join Cairngorms National Park and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park as part of the Bute House Agreement with the Greens.

However, the plan has run into a storm of protest from the agri sector. NFU Scotland has voiced concerns about the negative impact any new park will have on the sector, including increased traffic on unsuitable roads, stricter planning regulations and rising property prices placing homes out of the reach of local residents.

Biodiversity minister Lorna Slater said: “The Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs Parks have shown how valuable National Park status can be. Both Parks are recognised for their incredible landscapes, their outstanding natural and cultural heritage.

“National Park status has boosted their economies, supported local business and engaged communities to make the parks work for those who live and work in them. Once we have a site identified, we will engage again with the people in the area to look at determining things like park boundaries and balancing environmental protection with helping the communities and local enterprises thrive.

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“I want to thank everyone who has worked so positively and proactively with their local communities to discuss and explore local priorities and the opportunities that National Park status can bring, including those who ultimately chose not to nominate their area. I look forward to meeting with those who have led the nominations to hear directly from each community what they would want to see from becoming a National Park.”

Director of Action to Protect Rural Scotland (APRS), Kat Jones, said: “Scotland has some of the richest and varied natural and cultural landscapes in the world and is, rightly, world famous for them. Of the 15 National Parks in the UK, Scotland has only two and we are pleased that, 20 years since the first Scottish National Park was designated, we will soon have another.

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“National Parks in Scotland, in contrast to those in many other parts of the world, are tasked to deliver for people, nature and landscape. This recognition of how important people and livelihoods are for our landscapes, means National Parks are in a unique position to lead the way on the nature and climate crises while also supporting thriving, sustainable communities.”

Chair of Scottish Campaign for National Parks (SCNP), John Thomson, said: “The process of inviting nominations from communities has revealed widespread aspiration and interest in National Park status. It's a strong signal that this should be the start of a process for creating a suite of National Parks in Scotland, so that communities can build on the fruitful discussions they have had."