The chief executive officer of the Cairngorms National Park Authority recently claimed that a lot of the opinions circulating about national parks were based on ‘hearsay and anecdote’, ‘misinformation’, and ‘nonsense’.

Facts were then given about the value of the national park, such as the population has been increasing; house prices have been lower than elsewhere up until very recently; over 2000 houses have been built since 2003, with 175 of them having been affordable, and local people have a big influence on the park authority.

However, a read of the CNPA National Park Plan fact sheets from 2022 provides alternative evidence that all is not quite as rosy, such as:

• The number of over-65s is 57% higher in the national park than in the rest of Scotland.

• The median park house price in 2018 had increased to £37,500 above the Scottish average, placing many houses outwith the financial reach of workers in the park wishing to buy a home there.

• In 2018, a theoretical annual income of £48,857 was needed to purchase a property in the park.

• The actual median gross income in 2018 was £34,300, meaning there was nearly a £15,000 shortfall in the income required to be able to purchase a home in the park.

• Large, detached homes account for a much greater proportion of dwellings in the national park (52%) compared to Scotland as a whole (21%).

• 15% all dwellings in the park are second homes or are vacant, meaning such housing stock is ineffective.

• The shortage of suitable affordable housing is a major barrier to staff recruitment, in both seasonal and permanent positions. This is impacting on the potential of businesses to meet customer demands and provide high-quality services.

In conclusion, the recent demonstrations by crofters, farmers, gamekeepers, and other rural workers in the national park highlight that local people do not feel they have any influence.

A recent local Facebook poll garnered 433 votes from park residents who all felt that the Cairngorms National Park was not working well for communities.

Many local people are indeed ‘judging the effectiveness of the CNPA’ on the actual issues they experience daily while living and working here.

D Falconer, Regional co-ordinator of the Grampian Moorland Group