SIR, – I find it astonishing at this time of serious budget constraints to find out that the Scottish Government seems to be determined to create at least one more national park. No money for the A9 or the NHS or affordable housing, but plenty of money to burn on more green vanity projects.

The current models (Lomond and Cairngorms) are not at all popular with the people who have to live in these parks, and especially with rural workers, who fear their futures because of park objectives. Objectives that often have not been consulted upon by that policy will affect and with no safety net for them when they lose their livelihoods and housing. And many of the original promises made 20 years ago, are now forgotten. (The same promises are being made in the consultations for those new National Parks right now.)

For the Cairngorms NP, the annual budget for 2023-24 is £13.7m. Approximately half of this goes on staff salaries and running costs (c. £6.7m) and a third on peatland restoration (£4.3m – a scheme to make rich land owners richer and to allow companies to offset carbon emissions instead of reducing them, funded by the taxpayer).

I can only see less than £500,000 going into tangible assets that might make visiting or staying in the park better. So for that large multi-million pound budget we just get an extra layer of bureaucracy, especially in planning, and then the pleasure of being told what to do by a bunch of expensive, academic, desk jockeys with little local connection or empathy, indulging their desire to implement vanity projects that will not affect them or their descendants. A few carbon schemes here and there will not save the world but it will be the end of our world as we know it – our local cultural heritage or way of life.

The local people, especially around the Highlands do not want this waste of money and would far rather see these budgets (if the Scottish Government has spare cash) spent on things like community owned affordable housing projects which would be far better value to the taxpayer and those local people who struggle now to find a home.

Rural workers do not want any more national parks but with the current consultation process, they do not seem to be able to object and get their thoughts heard. They certainly do not have an appetite for a second round of consultations wasting more taxpayers' money than has already been spent on the sometimes covert and flawed first round. Their opinion is a big firm NO.

I do wonder if it is all some big conspiracy and some sort of 'boys club' (and girls) to create these cushy quango jobs for each other in the world of eco-superiority and greenwashing. I do wonder if the newly formed Cairngorms Crofters and Farmers might not feel so neglected if they actually had an agricultural officer to serve their needs and actually consult with them.

But it would seem at this critical time in relationships he is on 'gardening leave', or something similar, running road shows and consultation events for a new Lochaber National Park. Much against the will of many locals. However, a few councillors seem to be in favour because they are maybe looking at the c. £9000+ a year they will receive from taking their seats on the NP 'gravy train'.

I urge everyone concerned to write to all of their MSPs immediately on this subject to explain that national parks are not good value for money and from 20 years of experience already, not good for local people and communities. And explain that if the government persists with this tack they will lose lots of rural votes in the next elections, Westminster and Holyrood.

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