A public meeting to discuss the possibility of designating part of the Borders as a national park is to take place in Jedburgh next month.
A panel of experts will be on hand at Jedburgh Town Hall on Thursday, November 17, at 6.30pm to discuss the pros and cons of how a Scottish Borders National Park might work.
Included on the panel will be John Riddle, a Northumberland hill farmer who was initially sceptical about the national park idea but is now chairman of the UK Association of National Parks.
Designation of a Scottish Borders National Park is proposed by the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, the Scottish Campaign for National Parks and a group of businessmen and conservationists.
A spokesperson for the group said: “The objective is to put critical detail into a proposal to unite the region’s tourism, agriculture, forestry and recreation industries behind a powerful, internationally-recognised brand with the potential to transform the Scottish Borders’ economy and inculcate a deeper appreciation of the region’s outstanding natural assets and heritage.
“A Scottish Borders National Park could adopt a slimline, low-cost model in which a compact team would manage only the park’s core functions and work with other bodies, public and private, to achieve the aims of the park.
“This would be less costly and arguably more effective in the context of the Scottish Borders than being burdened with the more extensive powers and responsibilities of the other 15 UK national parks.
“The new national park authority could manage, operate and market the region’s scenic assets and facilities and focus on, promoting responsible access to the region’s scenic assets, while giving protection to these same assets and stimulating and co-ordinating new and existing business ideas and investment both in the Scottish Borders and across its borders.
“The Scottish Borders meets all the criteria for a national park.
“Indeed, the suggested southern boundary is with the Northumberland National Park, while the Borders’ strong cultural and working landscape binds its living history to the region’s hills and valleys and to its people.
“All of these are worth preserving and protecting without inhibiting farming and forestry businesses which could thrive and expand under the national park brand.
“By attracting more visitors and investment, a new Scottish Borders National Park could be a catalyst to pulling together the region’s diverse activities to generate sufficient wealth and well being among local communities to ensure long-term prosperity.