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28 Apr 2021

Making a difference – our proposals for Scotland 2021–26

Written by Diarmid Hearns, Head of Policy
Rays of sunshine beam down upon a moorland area beside a single track road. In the background is an enormous shoulder of a mountain, silhouetted against the blue sky.
Every five years Scotland elects a new Scottish Parliament, setting us on a new course in legislation, public policy and the delivery of public services. The election period is an opportunity to discuss what kind of country we want to be, and many ideas are put forward as to how this can best be achieved.

The National Trust for Scotland exists to care for our country’s heritage. Scotland’s laws and policies can have a big impact on our national heritage and how it is cared for.

We have therefore produced our own manifesto for the elections – as have many other organisations – suggesting how we can use public policies to encourage better care for our environment, meet the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss, and encourage more people to enjoy our cultural heritage.

In preparing our manifesto, we’ve also undertaken opinion polling with a representative sample of the Scottish public, testing how supportive the general public were of these proposals.

Our manifesto is available to download in full, but key points include:

Spectacular Scotland

To meet climate change targets, we will need to increase our renewable energy generation and transmission. However, badly sited developments can degrade our landscapes. We’re calling for a national location plan to manage these developments. We found that 69% of the Scottish public supported such a national plan.

Planning for the future

Our natural heritage is threatened by built development isolating nature-rich areas from one another. We’re calling for a National Nature Network to create green corridors to better connect our green spaces and nature reserves. We found that 73% of the public supported creating a link to such a national network in their own local area.

Naturally healthy

During the current COVID-19 crisis, people have supported their health and wellbeing by visiting green spaces and the countryside. We found that 58% of Scots were more likely to visit the outdoors in the future. To support this activity, we need to invest in path networks and other amenities.

Protected by law

We’re calling for Scotland to adopt legally binding targets to reverse the decline in nature, as has been done in the European Union and in England. We found 74% of the public supported the adoption of legally binding targets.

We are also proposing that Culloden Battlefield becomes a World Heritage Site, supporting the management of the whole battlefield area. We found that 70% of the public supported this proposal.

We’re looking forward to the next five years. We have much to do as a country in meeting the challenges of climate change, in restoring nature, in caring for our cultural assets, and in creating new opportunities for people to experience and enjoy Scotland.

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