A NATIONAL park in the Borders would provide a “much-needed” economic boost to the region, according to an MSP.

The Scottish Government has committed to establish at least one new national park by 2026.

And during a Parliamentary debate last week, South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said the region’s close proximity to both the central belt and the English border makes it the ideal location.

“The southern part of the Borders in particular, which is the favoured area of the campaign for a Scottish Borders national park, is in pressing need of an economic boost,” said Mr Smyth, of the Labour Party.

“With easy access to the central belt and the north of England, a Borders national park would help to deliver that boost and bring in more visitors to the area.

“The community campaigns in Galloway, the Borders and elsewhere show that there is real demand and a real appetite to grow the number of national parks in Scotland.”

There are currently two national parks in Scotland – the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs – and both were created almost 20 years ago.

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Mr Smyth said that there was “no reason” why two parks could not be created in southern Scotland.

“That could potentially reduce costs through the sharing of services, build on the close and growing links between the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway, and ensure that every borderlands rural local authority has a national park in its area.”

The Scottish Government – which said it was aware of at least 10 communities or groups which have expressed interest in national park status in the “recent past” – launched a consultation on the matter.

Biodiversity minister Lorna Slater said: “It is almost two decades since Scotland’s first national parks in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and the Cairngorms were established.

“Both are home to some of the country’s most outstanding scenery, are internationally important areas for nature and receive millions of visitors each year.

“They work hard to tackle the biodiversity and climate crisis, help manage facilities for visitors, promote responsible access and develop sustainable communities. They have become jewels in Scotland’s crown, and now is the time to add to them.

“We are committed to establish at least one new national park in Scotland by the end of this parliamentary session in 2026.

“To be able to do this in an open and transparent manner, we need to be able to assess any new area which is to be considered for national park status against a set of agreed expectations.”