POLITICAL support for the creation of a national park in the Borders is needed soon if the proposal is ever to become a reality, a campaigner has warned.

Malcolm Dickson, a member of the Scottish Borders National Park campaign group, has made a plea for the local authority to officially back the bid.

Mr Dickson, speaking at a meeting of Teviot and Liddesdale Area Partnership, said there were only two ongoing national park proposals – for the Borders and Galloway.

But Dumfries and Galloway Council has already thrown its weight behind the area’s bid.

Scottish Borders Council (SBC) is yet to do so and Mr Dickson fears that without that support the campaign could flounder.

He said: “There are two active campaigns in Scotland, Scottish Borders and Galloway and only our campaign has commissioned a feasibility study which backs the proposal.

“However, the councils of Dumfries and Galloway, East Ayrshire and South Ayrshire have already given political support whereas SBC has not.

“There is a precedent in the Borders for SBC giving political support to a campaign which has not yet been subject to a feasibility study – the Campaign for Borders Rail, let alone a Scottish Government assessment.

“The campaign team believes that now is the time for that political support to be offered because otherwise it might seem to some, however erroneously, that the Scottish Borders proposal is less strong, less developed and has less momentum than the Galloway campaign.

“SBC’s full council agreed a couple of years back that it should consider the proposal and a working group was set up but it hasn’t really been able to do much because the pandemic arrived just as soon as the first meeting took place.

“The time has come. If we don’t get support from SBC soon we will be viewed by the Scottish Government as having a weaker case.”

There are currently 10 national parks in England, three in Wales and two in Scotland – at Cairngorms and Loch Lomand and The Trossachs.

The SNP government is committed to create more parks in a partnership with the Green Party.

The benefits of a national park are seen as supporting the economy and preserving the area’s landscape and cultural heritage in perpetuity.

When asked to comment, SBC described the proposals as “interesting” but stopped short of backing them formally.

A council spokesperson said: “The designation of a certain area of the Scottish Borders as a national park remains an interesting proposal which could deliver various benefits but also potentially create some challenges.

“Scottish Borders Council does not currently have a formal position regarding the proposal and it is important to note that the designation of national parks is ultimately a matter for the Scottish Government.”