A CAMPAIGN group in the south-west of Scotland has officially registered its interest in making the area Scotland's next National Park.

The Galloway National Park Association (GNPA) has been lobbying to have the area made only the third National Park in Scotland, after Loch Lomond and the Trossachs in was designated in 2002 and the Cairngorms in 2003.

The GNPA says the area of its proposed national park in the south-west of Scotland would include parts of the Doon Valley area in East Ayrshire and sections of two South Ayrshire Council wards - Girvan and South Carrick, and Maybole, North Carrick and Coylton.

The Scottish Government has made a commitment to designate at least one new National Park in Scotland by 2026.

Lorna Slater MSP, Scotland's minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity, officially opened the 'expressions of interest' period during a visit to Loch Lomond on Thursday - and the GNPA immediately threw its hat into the ring.

Rob Lucas, chair of the GNPA, said: “We welcome today’s announcement and immediately registered our interest in becoming home to Scotland’s third National Park.

“This is a goal we have been working towards for five years. Galloway’s amazing mix of moors, mountains, rolling farmlands and rugged coastlines makes it the ideal choice.

“What’s more there is strong backing from the public, from business and politicians of all parties – which is vital in ensuring the success of any new National Park.”

Ms Slater said: “I look forward to engaging with communities and learning more about their proposals, and I encourage everyone to get involved as we move closer to naming Scotland’s next national park.

“Our existing national parks play an important role in tackling the biodiversity and climate crises, whilst also supporting local communities, businesses and visitors.

“Last year we consulted widely on the future of national parks in Scotland, and there was broad support for our commitment to create at least one new park by 2026.”

An online poll last y ear on which part of Scotland should form the country's next National Park saw the south-west Scotland area receive 50.3 per cent of all the votes, more than the other potential locations – Ben Nevis, Glen Affric, Argyll, Wester Ross, Harris, and the Borders – combined.