A MILESTONE was reached last week when Scottish Borders Council formally agreed to consider a proposal for a National Park in the region.
The decision was made after talks on the draft Local Development Plan in September.
There are strong international moves to protect more land for nature and in Scotland many people believe the best way to do this is to create more national parks.
Currently only eight per cent of Scotland is covered by national parks and 13 per cent by National Scenic Areas, although there is some overlap between the two and several other designations.
Malcolm Dickson, a Scottish Borders National Park (SBNP) team member said: “National Park designation could help the economy of the whole Borders and not only the area which lies within the final boundary.
“The fact the name would be the Scottish Borders National Park, together with the experience of communities outside existing national parks around the world, means the knock-on economic benefits would spill over into the wider region.
“We believe the council has nothing to lose by supporting the proposal but would need to have very good reasons for not taking advantage of a community-originated idea gathering momentum in the region.”
Greg Cuthbert, Newcastleton community council vice-chairman said: “The national park could offer Newcastleton and the community at large many opportunities.
“We would be the gateway to a future Borders National Park and the established Northumberland National Park, making it an attractive option for future tourism development and investment,
“The village would sit in a unique position which, if supported, could help create many more job opportunities which are so badly needed.
“It offers rural areas, neglected for years, to free themselves from the cycle of depopulation.
“But none of this is possible if it is just another layer of bureaucracy and bureaucratic red tape which hinders any already planned growth and development.
“The problems of living in a national park can bring at times are well known.
“All in all, if we can have a national park which is fit for the 21st century and wants to encourage and help the rural communities to grow and prosper, it is a welcome development.
“We’d certainly like to be at the forefront of any future talks.
“This, along with the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, gives the community a place at the centre of both organisations.”
Councillor Watson McAteer, Hawick & Hermitage, said: ‘With a firm commitment by the council to properly consider this exciting proposal, a real opportunity is being presented to the Borders.
“The pandemic has affected everyone and changed many people’s priorities but the need to build and strengthen our economic base has never been greater.
“A national park in the Borders presents an ideal opportunity to develop our latent tourist industry for the long term, providing an economic and social opportunity which must not be missed.”
The SBNP team has already initiated and is co-ordinating the 12 Towers of Rule, an exciting heritage project involving Denholm and Bonchester Bridge.
It is based on a major historical event in the 16th century.
The project team will bring to life the impacts on Teviotdale of the turbulent period of the Rough Wooing and its aftermath.
The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and Archaeology Scotland are involved and a business case has been made for a feasibility study to South of Scotland Enterprise.