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Council Unconvinced of Benefits of Marine National Park (21/03/07)
The Highland Council remains unconvinced of the benefits of the creation of Scotland’s first Coastal and Marine National Park.
In responding to the latest steps planned by the Scottish Executive for developing the Park, Dr Michael Foxley, Vice Convener, whose constituency borders one of the areas being considered for designation, said: "In November 2006, The Highland Council responded formally to the Executive's consultation exercise, saying that we remained unconvinced as to any real benefits arising from the designation of a Marine and Coastal National Park in our area. We also expressed serious concern about the potential negative consequences for coastal communities and inshore fishery interests who may face additional and costly burdens from increased regulation.
“Then we said there was insufficient detail on the Executive's plans to be able to assess the likely impact of designation but we have heard nothing further on the detail of their proposals. We also made the point that there needed to be meaningful consultation with potential candidate Highland communities. This has not happened, nor does it appear to have been offered."
The Council, he said, welcomed the Minister's acknowledgement that concerns exist and his commitment to explore these issues further.
The Executive should, however, consult much more widely than just the Enterprise Networks. The Council would, therefore, be seeking a joint discussion with HIE to articulate all of these issues and then to have a much wider consultation with all concerned about the pros and cons.
The Convener of the Highland Council, Councillor Alison Magee, expressed her dismay that the Minister had not seen fit to approach Local Authorities, as Statutory Planning Authorities, about the development of their plans for a marine national park.