Dumfries and Galloway has been named UK Holiday Destination of the Year by fans of the popular BBC programme, Countryfile. For those of us who live in the region, we are not surprised, we are perhaps a little smug for we have enjoyed the secret all along. The area is stunning and being here brings a great sense of well being to local people and to those who visit, a real appreciation of landscape, wildlife, history and art. The tourist economy is growing and many depend on the sector for their livelihoods.
As tourism chiefs celebrate and see the announcement as a useful marketing tool, there is a shadow hanging over the region. SP Energy Networks, a subsidiary of Scottish Power, plan to install 109 miles of high voltage power lines, pylons and substations across the award winning landscape. Their proposal is hugely controversial and has brought objection from cross party politicians, thousands of residents and environmental organisations. The local campaign group, Dumgal Against Pylons, has outlined an alternative plan. A plan which would meet transmission needs but without sacrificing the region and the people.
The recognition is exciting and could do so much for the region, but what is needed now is protection. Ultimately, the Scottish Government will decide if we are to become another of Scotland’s super power highways. If so, the accolade of UK Holiday Destination of the Year will be shortlived