Scotland's first national park takes shape at last

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The Independent Online

The shape of Scotland's first national park, covering Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, became clear yesterday when the Scottish Executive launched a final consultation on the plans.

The draft boundaries published yesterday show the park will be bigger than first envisaged, covering an area of 600 square miles from near Dunoon on the Firth of Clyde to Tyndrum beyond Loch Lomond's northern tip. The loch, the largest area of fresh water in Britain, will be at the park's centre.

It is hoped the park will formally be designated next April, more than 50 years after national parks were set up in England and Wales (there are now 10). Scotland was left out of the original legislation, partly, some believe, because of pressure from big Scottish landowners, but the Scottish Executive has made national parks a priority. The second park is likely be centred on the Cairngorms.

The Scottish parks will be different from those south of the border: they will have social and economic goals as well as the aims of conservation, recreation and the sustainable use of resources.

Rhona Brankin, the Scottish Executive's Deputy Minister for Environment and Rural Development, said: "National parks are about people as well as the land, about creating thriving communities and linking the opportunities for tourism, landscape protection, recreation and farming.

"This integrated approach underpins our thinking behind national parks and relies on thorough consultation to ensure we strike the right balance."