Plans to extend the Pentland Hills Regional Park are not convincing according to a report issued today by the Scottish Parliament’s Pentland Hills Regional Park Boundary Bill Committee.
Introduced by Christine Grahame MSP, the Pentland Hills Regional Park Boundary Bill sought to extend the existing Regional Park to encompass nearly all of the Pentland hills range.
However, the Committee found there was little demand for the extension of the Park and doing so would lead to further financial burdens being placed on those local authorities involved in maintaining an enlarged park.
Committee Convener, James Dornan MSP said:
“There is no doubt Christine Grahame is passionate about protecting the landscape of the Pentland hills for future generations. However, we are not convinced extending the Regional Park would give this protection.
“It was clear from the evidence given by local authorities that, far from being a simple line on a map, they were concerned the extension could place a very real financial burden on those local authorities involved in the maintenance of the Regional Park, which could see funding spread even more thinly. For a park which plays such an important role in the lives of many people, to do so would have a damaging impact.
“That is why we have decided that we cannot support the general principles of the Bill.”
The Committee’s report also notes that a full feasibility study would be needed in order to ascertain properly demand for any extension and to give detailed consideration to governance and funding arrangements of any extended park.
The Pentland Hills Regional Park Boundary Bill was introduced to the Parliament on 30 April 2015 by Christine Grahame MSP. The Parliament established an ad hoc committee on 17 June 2015 with a remit “to consider matters relating to the Pentland Hills Regional Park Boundary Bill.
According to the Policy Memorandum the purpose of the Bill is to “extend the existing Regional Park to encompass all (or nearly all) of the Pentland Hills range, thus ensuring it is protected and that decisions about how land is used and maintained in the long‑term are guided by the Regional Park principal aims”. These aims are
- To retain the essential character of the hills as a place for peaceful enjoyment of the countryside;
- To care for the hills, so that the landscape and habitat is protected and enhanced;
- Within this caring framework to encourage responsible public enjoyment of the hills;
- Co-ordination of these aims so that they can co-exist with farming and other land uses within the Park.