Environment Committee on National Parks Fact Finding Trip

Synopsis: The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for the Environment has spent the past two days on a fact finding visit to Scotland and England to gather more information about national parks. Proposed legislation for the designation and management of national parks is due to be introduced to the Assembly in December 2012.

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 27 September 2012

Reference: ENV 04/12/13

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for the Environment has spent the past two days on a fact finding visit to Scotland and England to gather more information about national parks.  Proposed legislation for the designation and management of national parks is due to be introduced to the Assembly in December 2012.

Committee Members met with many concerned stakeholders, including local residents, farmers, business representatives and park officials to get an overview of the experiences, benefits and downsides of living and working in or near a national park. 

Committee Chairperson, Anna Lo, said, “This two-day visit has been extremely worthwhile.  The Committee is keen to gather as much information as possible about national parks so that it will be well informed should national park legislation be introduced.  During the visit, we heard the people’s views and personal experiences of the introduction of a national park.  These have ranged from managing tourism, planning, operating a business and farming within a national park, governance and the day to day operations.”  

Ms Lo continued: “We visited two sites - Loch Lomond and the Lake District.  Loch Lomond is one of the most recently designated parks and has been established for more than ten years. The Lake District was one of the first to be designated a national park and has been operating since the 1950s.  Both sites have offered great insight into the establishment, growth and operation of a national park.”

Ms Lo concluded: “One thing that is clear from our visit is the need for an inclusive process that encompasses all relevant interests.  It has been invaluable to us as a Committee to hear first-hand accounts, along with some of the difficulties individuals and groups have faced, and see for ourselves the impact a national park has had on the surrounding area.  This information will be vital to us when we start to scrutinise proposed legislation.” 

Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly Environment Committee recently undertook a two day visit to Loch Lomond and the Lake District to examine issues on establishing a national park.  Pictured on the shores of at Loch Lomond are members of the Central Scotland Police, along with Committee Chairperson, Anna Lo MLA; Francie Molloy MLA; Cathal Boylan MLA; Tom Elliott MLA; and Gordon Donaldson from the Forestry Commission Scotland.

Four Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly Environment Committee are pictured at Loch Lomond on a two day fact finding visit on national parks: (l-r) Cathal Boylan MLA; Tom Elliott MLA; Committee Chairperson, Anna Lo MLA; and Francie Molloy MLA.

 


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