COUNCILLORS are expected to take part in a "lively debate" on a proposal for a new national park in the Borders when it meets next week (Thursday, December 14).

Councillors at Scottish Borders Council (SBC) will hear arguments for and against a Borders National Park during Thursday's meeting, including recommendations from The Campaign for a Scottish Borders National Park group, which has promoted the benefits of a national park in the area since 2016.

However, the report set to be discussed, from SBC's infrastructure and environment department, says that a "compelling and cogent case" has not been made for a Borders national park.

Councillor Jenny Linehan, executive member for environment and transport, added that she does not believe the proposal is something the council can support, owing to the "potential risks and costs" of a national park.

She said: "Unfortunately, at this time, and following significant consideration of all relevant matters, the group’s proposal is not something which I believe we can support due to the potential risks and costs associated with it."

The report from council officers states that the risks associated with a Scottish Borders National Park are "not fully understood at this point" and would require further exploration once the proposal for a national park in the Borders was progressed.

The Scottish Government launched a nomination process in the autumn, seeking proposals for a new national park in Scotland, with a nominations deadline set for the end of February 2024.

Ms Linehan added: “In considering whether or not we should support a proposal for a national park in the Scottish Borders we must take into account not just the benefits that this could deliver but also the challenges it could pose, not least the appropriate management of the area designated and the administration which would also be required, for example planning matters.

“The local campaign group has carried out a huge amount of work over many years, and those involved should be applauded for their efforts and the time they have dedicated to this cause."

Discussions have also been held between SBC, Dumfries and Galloway Council, and partner organisations across the south of Scotland to explore the possibility of a joint venture.

Ms Linehan shared that it was "disappointing" that proposals for a South of Scotland National Park had not progressed.

She said: "Despite discussions about a single strategic proposal for a South of Scotland National Park taking place with various partners, this has not been able to be progressed.

"This is disappointing, as the case may have been stronger for that proposition than individual Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway national parks.

“I am sure we will have a lively debate at Council next week, and despite the recommended approach, there is absolutely no diminution in our commitment to protecting our landscape, to increasing biodiversity, tackling climate change or maximising the economic benefits from our stunning area.”

The officers' report adds that should individual nominations from groups in the Borders and in neighbouring Dumfries and Galloway be unsuccessful, and dependent on another round of nominations being opened, it may be "worthwhile" to revisit proposals for a South of Scotland National Park.

Full details of the council officers' report can be found on the SBC website.