Fears have been raised over the prospect of new national parks in Scotland as tourism could be promoted over food production and farming.

The Scottish government has opened the process for organisations and the public to submit proposals for Scotland’s next national park.

Currently, there are two national parks – the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs – with the devolved government hoping to extend the number.

In announcing the process of appointing a new park, the Scottish government did not mention agriculture, food production or agri-tourism, despite these being key drivers of the rural economy.

NFU Scotland’s environmental policy manager, Sarah Cowie said the government’s choice of wording was disappointing, which would in turn cause concern for farmers.

“We accept the fact that we have to take action on climate change… but our members are unconvinced that a new national park is the best way to do this,” she said.

“We’re unclear on what the added value of a national park is and believe its objectives can be achieved through other existing means such as economic development agencies, regional land use partnerships (RLUP) and tourism bodies.

“For farming businesses to be profitable and sustainable, they have to invest and grow, and there are concerns that national parks are just another layer of bureaucracy which won’t deliver for those living and working in the area.”

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