The Angry Corrie 40: Jan-Mar 1999

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and they call it democracy ...

The Knoydart situation appears to be heading towards cork-popping progress; the Landowners' Federation and the Access Forum continue, birdlike, to perform some contorted Attenboroughesque courtship dance; and the Cairn Gorm funicular chugs steadily towards what looks ominously like Deva Station. But the long-running debate about National Parks for Scotland carries on quietly in the background, away from the public eye by and large. The upcoming Scottish Parliament looks likely to push for Parks as a visible, high-profile attempt at regeneration and revitalisation, and a local source in the north-east reports that "even those opposed to a Cairngorms Park take the view that if it is going to happen anyway, then they want to be involved with it." If a Cairngorms Park does get the go-ahead, it will take at least five years to appear on the ground. The Scottish Parliament would need to scrutinise the plans (year 2000 at the earliest), the first tranche of legislation would then go through during 2001/2, followed by secondary legislation during 2003/4. The shiny new Park would then stagger blinking into in the daylight in 2004 or 2005 - although there are many cups and lips twixt then and now, not least in terms of elections.

That this is likely to be pushed through seems in little doubt. At the recent AGM of the Scottish Wild Land Group, the extent to which guest speakers Andy Wightman and Robin Callander were quizzed on land reform issues showed the increased awareness of, and eagerness for, a substantial degree of change. TAC's source on the ground suggests - unsurprisingly - that the Scottish Parliament will want to be seen to be doing things differently from Westminster, and that land reform and National Parks would be ideal "Scottish features" to flag up. (Strange that, given that it's only a few years since the merest mention of National Parks threw activists and politicians into paroxysms of agitation about "creeping Englishness".) Because the new Parliament will want to show a Scottish identity, suggests TAC's contact, so such things will be pushed in terms of internationally marketing "New Scotland". But, he cannily adds, this could all be bollocks and nothing might change.

Elsewhere, not much else changes, and all is indeed bollocks. Another anecdote has emerged from Lawers village (TACs passim). Even though the village persistently fleeces visitors with exorbitant parking charges along with general constraints and restrictions, this doesn't stop the locals chipping in with additional hostile comments like "I'm fed up with all you walkers", as heard recently. Shame that they have a 1200m hill in their back yard, really: the place appears to have its spiritual home in the Surrey stockbroker belt. Maybe it should be twinned with Wentworth.

As of late Nov, the new chair of the Cairngorms Partnership is Ian Grant, ex-president of Scottish NFU and former head of the Scottish Tourist Board. He lives and farms locally.

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