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MSPs, an MP, Councillors, Perth & Kinross Council Officers, Blair Atholl residents, tourism officials, environmental experts and outdoor celebrities marked the September 1st date of the launch of the Cairngorms National Park by climbing the 3200' high mountain, Carn Liath, in Highland Perthshire. The ascent took place at the same time as the official Ministerial launch was taking place further North in the Ptarmigan restaurant on Cairn Gorm.

Carn Liath is the first 'Munro', visitors usually see when driving Northwards up the A9, the main access to the Highlands. In clear weather it's huge presence is unavoidable, making it a clear case for inclusion within the Cairngorms National Park. Campaigners climbed it because Carn Liath and other surrounding hills in Highland Perthshire were controversially excluded by the Scottish Executive from the National Park.

The exclusion took place despite :-

" Clear recommendations from the Executive's own Reporter, Scottish Natural Heritage, that the Boundary should extend much further southward to include Blair Atholl, Upper Glenshee and mountains like Carn Liath.

" The clear majority of respondents to Executive consultations favouring inclusion of the Highland Perthshire stretch.

" The Scottish Parliament's Rural Development Committee voting by 9 to 2 that they regretted the exclusion of Highland Perthshire.

" Perthshire areas scoring higher in the formal Reporter assessment than some areas that were included.

Bill Wright, Chair of Perthshire Alliance for the Real Cairngorms (PARC) - details attached -, commenting on the official launch said:-

"Due to the exclusion, the champagne corks were not popping in Perthshire but we felt it was important to mark the occasion of the formal establishment of the Cairngorms National Park. So we had a dram at the excluded summit. The case remains very strong that the Perthshire part of the Cairngorms should be part of the National Park."

"The decision to cut it out was made by the Scottish Executive and not the National Park Board and it is the Executive who have the duty to respond to the compelling case for adding Perthshire back in. MSPs from the Conservative, Green, Liberal Democrat and Scottish Nationalist Parties support that aim.

"We wish the National Park Board and staff well and it is vital that the boundary issue is addressed immediately as they face difficult challenges ahead. Issues such as National Park gateways and promotion are already arising. The Executive must not delay in resolving the boundary issue if these matters are to be addressed efficiently and effectively."

Andy Hay, who chairs the Community Council for Blair Atholl & Struan added:-

"There was considerable community concern that that the recommendations of Scottish National Heritage regarding the boundaries of the Cairngorms National Park were ignored. This decision, following considerable time and effort being expended by the community during the consultation phase, came as a great disappointment, particularly as the community view was that there was no compelling reason to changing the boundaries from those recommended. "

Councillor Mike Barnacle of Perth & Kinross Council is also critical of the Scottish Executive boundary decision, stating :-

"We regard the use of our administrative boundary to define the Park's southern limits as illogical, since it bears no relationship to the natural heritage, conservation, landscape and recreational interests which are the critique for National Parks. The current southern boundary is at odds with the overwhelming view from respondents to the consultation exercise. "

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