Why I am campaigning for a National Park for Lochaber

Kate Willis is the Scottish Green councillor for Fort William and Ardnamurchan, Ward 21, and a member of the Lochaber National Park Working Group.


I was proud to support the submission of the Lochaber nomination to be considered for National Park designation by Scottish Ministers because I very strongly believe that National Park status would bring many benefits and support for communities and the environment throughout the area. 

Lochaber has been considered as a possible location for a National Park for decades, and it’s easy to see why. We have the highest mountain in the UK, spectacular mountain and coastal scenery, Atlantic rainforest and ancient Caledonian pine forest, complex geology, and a long cultural history – over 1,600 square kilometres of Lochaber already lies within National Scenic Areas.

National Park status brings a huge range of benefits, including additional investment, cultural and heritage support and enhanced protection for their unique environments. They also support sustainable tourism by welcoming, educating and managing millions of visitors.

In Lochaber we currently experience so many of the challenges of being one without having the additional resources available to National Parks to deal with them.

I can see how the areas within Scotland’s existing National Parks are benefitting and prospering from the support and resources this status brings. For example, Cairngorms National Park Authority has just received £10.7 million worth of Heritage Lottery Funding to help deliver Cairngorms 2030, a transformational programme that will help people and communities in the National Park to take action and tackle the nature and climate crisis. 

Along with funding from the Scottish Government and others, the total value of the programme could reach up to £42 million. This ambitious and pioneering project will help to make the Cairngorms the UK’s first net zero national park.

The project involves over 70 partners working together to deliver benefits for rural communities, businesses and the natural environment - Lochaber is currently missing out on these opportunities.

With National Park status we can do so much more to support farmers, residents, businesses and visitors in Lochaber, while ensuring that our beautiful and iconic landscapes are supported.

The designation process has been a local-led process, with local residents leading the way and engaging with local people to find out what they want from a National Park and how it will impact our community. 

The next phase of the consultation process will be professionally led by an independent organisation, not a small group of volunteers in their spare time. It will be funded by the Scottish Government and held over a 12-month period. It will provide factual information about Scotland’s National Parks and what their benefits and effects might be. 

I am proud that with Scottish Greens in Government we are investing in wildlife and nature and creating a new National Park in Scotland. Every bid will have its own strengths, but I will be backing the Lochaber bid. I wish all groups the best of luck and hope for a greener and better future for Scotland.