MSP Pentland’s Bill fails at committee

Ms Grahame with supporters when the Bill was launched last May
Ms Grahame with supporters when the Bill was launched last May

Midlothian South MSP Christine Grahame has failed in her bid to have the boundary of the Pentland Hills Regional Park extended.

The SNP MSP has expressed her disappointment that a Scottish Parliament committee did not support the general principles of her Bill to extend the park.

In coming to its decision, the Pentland Hills Regional Park Boundary Bill Committee said Ms Grahame had “created a focus on the regional park and its aims” as well as recognising the problems local authorities will face in meeting the aims of the park in the coming years.

Ms Grahame said: “I am, of course, very disappointed that the Pentland Hills Regional Park Boundary Bill Committee came to the conclusion that it did not support the general principles of my bill.

“There is a need to protect the whole of the Pentland Hills range and I had hoped that the committee would agree with me that this was a role for us, as politicians.”

Ms Grahame also welcomed the recommendation that a feasibility study would be appropriate.

A number of respondents to the committee called for a study to show the difference between support and demand for a boundary extension.

Ms Grahame added: “I feel it would have been more helpful if the committee had recommended who should carry out such a study and perhaps provided a timescale.

“It is hard not to think of what more could be done if the Parliament were to pass this Bill. This is only the first stage and I am looking forward to being able to make my case in Parliament during the stage one debate.”

The committee concluded: “We acknowledge the estimated cost to implement ‘a line on the map’ is minimal.

“In practice, however, we consider the legislation would create an expectation leading to increased interest in using the extended regional park and in turn lead to pressure to maintain and manage paths, create parking and widen the ranger service.

“This would inevitably require increasing funding to fulfil the aims of the regional park.

“It is clear to us that there are financial pressures on the current management of the existing regional park and it therefore seems illogical to extend it thus requiring any available funding to be spread more thinly across an enlarged area.”