So, the deadline for the submission of new National Park proposals in Scotland ended this week – and all that seems to be omnipresent from the agricultural industry is a feeling of impending doom about what the end-game will be.

That should not be the case. In all of the submissions, the role of agriculture that has already established a rural economy – and in some of the proposed areas, a thriving one – should have been front and centre of the discussion. It hasn’t.

READ MORE | Two women charged following Lochaber national park protest

There are two conclusions here. One, that the various bodies that are falling over themselves to clamour for the setting up of new parks (and the funding that goes with it), don’t want farmers in on the planning of such; or, two, the industry itself cannot rouse itself off its tractor seat to fight its own corner?

I suspect it is a bit of both. But what is clear is, that in Dumfries and Galloway, the fear is very real because intensive agriculture lies very much within the boundaries of the proposed NP there. Some of the most productive dairy, beef and sheep farms in Scotland could be at risk from any National Park Authority meddling in their day-to-day activities – and the feeling is, that this would be a surety.

There is every reason for farming to feel left out and for defeatism to set in simply because of the expected board structure of any new NP. In the current National Parks, in Cairngorms and Loch Lomond, local representation on the board equates to just 20%, while of the rest, half are nominated by the local authority(ies) and half from the Scottish Government.

To me, that weighs heavily against those who live and work in the area and raises the spectre of civic and national vagaries of political choice, some of which would be inappropriate to the locale. Green MSP, Lorna Slater is the minister in charge of the selection process during this round of submissions and her track record of delivering an untainted outcome, from the likes of the bottle return scheme and the loss of bracken control chemistry, speaks for itself.

READ MORE | To National Park, or not to National Park? That is the question!

How will any new NP square itself with the current regulatory structure that precludes the erection of wind turbines within them? In the case of D and G, there are already some well-established wind farms – what will they do with those? Take them down? Another dilemma for the Greens.

On the other hand, to set aside funding for any new National Park would appear to be folly when the fiscal health of almost all local authorities and the nation appears to be heading for a sink hole. We have all heard this week about ‘Budgets’ and the ‘challenges we face’ and the truth is, can we really afford to ‘buy’ a new National Park?

The £20.9m budget allocated to the two we already have is a lot of money, which suggests that the cost of operating a third would at least be £10-£12m, not counting any extra set up costs. By the way, that £20.9m is £7m more than it was in 2020/21, so it seems that budget planning for tough times does not apply to NP status! Makes you wonder where the Bew Money went?

The good people of D and G, where I now stay, would tell you that their main desire would be for a road system that does not chew up tyres or wreck suspensions. Which brings in the argument that the infrastructure is simply not ready to receive the visitors that those supposedly in the know expect to be drawn into the area.

READ MORE | Debate sparks as Scotland considers new national parks

Quite frankly, apart from the roads, the ability of many of the areas vying for NP status would simply not be able to cope with any great influx of visitor numbers – look to the gridlock of North Coast 500 in ‘high season’ to check that argument out!

For D and G, the biggest economic benefit to the area would be an upgrade of the A75 between Gretna and Stranraer, not a new National Park. Making it dual carriageway for most of the way, without the impediment of roundabouts and 30mph limits through villages and towns, would deliver so many long-term benefits to all locals along that route.

Not the least of those would be a reduction in road traffic accidents, some of which are fatalities that could be avoided by a proper road system.

Just why the Green Party in Scotland is against new road developments that would deliver positivity for so many – and you can include the A9 and the A90 in that plan – beggars belief. If they really want to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, then they should have a desire to see fuel economy as a backbone of policy and you can’t do that by stopping and starting at roundabout and traffic lights.

Even electric vehicles use roads and for them to give best return per ‘fill’, a decent road system is an absolute necessity. The best way to reduce fuel use of any kind is to make transport easier, not more difficult.

Nearly forgot to mention that I am recently returned from Argentina, where pragmatism and supporting business – which includes its biggest earner, agriculture – is paramount in national and local fiscal planning.

READ MORE | New park proposal sparks debate over existing values

We all know that Argentinian wine is now a ‘big thing.’ But it only survives because of an elaborate configuration of water courses and ditches which use the snow melt from the Andes in the famous wine-growing region of Mendoza.

This demonstrates a collaborative approach between industry and government to deliver a thriving economy, which has sucked in money from international wine investors to the area. This has made it an international destination for foodies and jaikies (sorry, wine lovers).

Which brings the conclusion that maybe if the Scottish Government took more advice from business and less from tree-huggers, then we could really fire up the engine room of the Scottish economy. The get out clause from that is ... the better the economy, the more we can spend on wrapping our arms around trees!