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Two thirds support marine and coastal national park, poll shows

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Almost two thirds of Scots want a new national park with coastal and marine areas in it, polling has revealed.

Research by pollsters at Survation found that 33% strongly support this, while another 30% somewhat support the idea.

Just one in ten (10%) are opposed to a new national park taking in marine and coastal areas, the survey, carried out in January, found.

Ministers have already pledged to establish at least one new national park in Scotland by the end of this parliamentary term, with the commitment part of the Bute House Agreement between the SNP and Scottish Greens.

Submissions from areas hoping to be given this status have to be in by February 29 with areas including Galloway, the Scottish Borders, the Tay Forest, Lochaber, Skye and Raasay, Affric to Alladale, Glen Affric, the Lammermuirs, Largo Bay and Loch Awe having already expressed an interest.

Joe Richards, Scotland project manager at the Blue Marine Foundation conservation charity argued however that it is “time for a coastal and marine national park for Scotland”.

He said: “There are many iconic areas of Scotland where communities would benefit from the enhanced local control a national park brings, from economic and environmental improvements to better visitor management.

“So many of these natural wonders are where the land meets the sea, and, like the public, we think it’s time for a coastal and marine national park for Scotland.”

Falls of Falloch in Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park

He added that a coastal and marine national park could have “multiple uses” with economic benefits as well as conservation.

Mr Richards said: “The idea of a coastal and marine national park for Scotland has been a dream of many for decades. Now is the time to make it a reality.”

Scotland currently has just two national parks, in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and the Cairngorms, and Nikki Sinclair national parks strategy project manager for the Scottish Campaign for National Parks argued that ministers should be creating a whole “suite of national parks during this Parliament and beyond”.

She said: “We should ensure that the whole range of Scotland’s special landscapes are recognised and it would be a missed opportunity if areas with coastal and marine elements were not up for consideration.

“The more bids that come in from communities across Scotland, whether coastal or not, the more options ministers will have when they decide how to expand our national park network.”

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