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Monday, 29 January, 2001, 17:35 GMT
Park life will bring 'real opportunities'
The Cairngorms
The Cairngorms will become a national park
Business leaders have been urged to seize the economic opportunities created when the Cairngorms attains national park status in early 2003.

The move aims to preserve the natural heritage and ensure future developments do not harm the environment.

But some businesses in the area remain sceptical and say the new status may damage the local economy.

Conservation, communities and commerce can no longer be pitted against each other

Environment Minister Sam Galbraith
However, Environment Minister Sam Galbraith told a conference in Aviemore that the change would not mean the creation of a "glorified museum" where change was barred.

Speaking on Monday, he said those involved had to find new ways of doing things.

"Conservation, communities and commerce can no longer be pitted against each other," he said.

"Business has an essential role to play in seizing the very real opportunities presented.

"The proposed national park is an opportunity to create a seamless link between tourism, landscape protection, agriculture and business.

Sam Galbraith
Sam Galbraith reassured local businesses
"We have a real opportunity before us. I urge you all to seize it."

The Cairngorms is due to become the second national park in Scotland, following Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.

Mr Galbraith stressed that national parks were "not about preserving areas in aspic".

"They are about sustainable rural development - retraining and nurturing the special qualities of the area and using these as a basis for social and economic development as well as environment protection," he said.

Some local firms feel their business may suffer if they are forced to compete with a publicly subsidised park authority selling national park goods.

Protecting the environment

Others are worried the new designation will mean the enforcement of stricter planning rules which could make development more expensive.

Highland Council's convener, Councillor David Green, said he would back the plan as long as enough money was committed to protecting the environment and boosting the local economy.

"Our objective must be to achieve a lively, well-balanced community where protection of the superb environment sits alongside a vibrant economy and the entrepreneurial skills of the residents can be allowed to flourish," he said.

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21 Jan 00 | Scotland
Scottish national parks near reality
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