A MOVE for the Borders to become a national park is one of five bids on a shortlist despite being deemed a “half-baked” idea by some councillors.

The move to add another national park in Scotland has taken a step forward after the list was revealed on Friday (March 1).

In addition to the Borders, Galloway, Lochaber, Loch Awe and Tay Forest will now be assessed for suitability.

Each proposal will be appraised by the Scottish Government against the published criteria and further consultation will be held once a preferred site is identified, expected to be in the summer.

The government is committed to designating at least one new park by 2026, to join Cairngorms National Park and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park as part of the Bute House Agreement with the Greens.

A plea to support a proposed national park in the Borders was crushingly rejected by members of Scottish Borders Council in December last year after being labelled “half baked” and “incoherent”.

Members voted 27 votes to 2 in support of a recommendation by local authority officers not to support the establishment of a park.

The report to the full council cited potential negative impacts, including increased house prices, additional bureaucracy and pressures on infrastructure and services.

Members also criticised the park proposal for not incorporating in its geographical area large parts of the Borders.

But despite the setback, campaigners have pushed ahead with the bid.

Campaign spokesperson Malcolm Dickson said the council’s decision was a “bolt out of the blue”, but added: “Fortunately for us, it’s not the end of the road as councillors may yet decide to still support the proposal for a Scottish Borders National Park.

“Even if they do not do that it is still not the end of the road because it’s the Scottish Government that decides, although in the past the Scottish Government has said it would not support any proposal not supported by the relevant local authority, they no longer say that.”

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

Chair of Scottish Campaign for National Parks (SCNP) John Thomson said: “The process of inviting nominations from communities has revealed widespread aspiration and interest in national park status.

“It’s a strong signal that this should be the start of a process for creating a suite of national parks in Scotland, so that communities can build on the fruitful discussions they have had.”