James Stuart will take over from Linda McKay as Loch Lomond & the Trossachs convener in March 2017

James Stuart will take over from Linda McKay as Loch Lomond & the Trossachs convener in March 2017

A former infantry officer and boss of the Royal Yachting Association is taking over as head of Scotland’s first national park.

James Stuart will take up the position as convener of the Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park Authority in March.

The current holder of the post, Linda McKay, will step down after the maximum two terms heading the authority.

Mr Stuart is managing director of Entrepreneurial Scotland and has sat on the board of the national park since February 2015. He was elected convener at the board meeting on Monday, beating Petra Biberbach who also stood for election.

Mr Stuart served as an officer in the Scottish Infantry for eight years, and is also a member of the National Tourism Strategy (Tourism Scotland 2020) strategic leadership group. He said he has had an interest in the national park for many years. He was chief operating officer of the Scottish Equestrian Association for six months after finishing his regular Army career.

“I am delighted to have been elected as the new convener of Loch Lomond & the Trossachs national park. The national park has come a long way in recent years with numerous successes and gaining national recognition.

“We are also about to deliver some key projects that will secure long-term, environmental, community and economic benefits.

“These projects will characterise much of our work over the next few years and are crucial to the continued progress and impact of the Park. However, they are not the only activity of the park authority.

“As convener I aim to lead the organisation in a way that is mindful of these big projects whilst also looking to the future. To help realise the brightest of our possible futures we will seek to draw on the sum of all our talents and to make the most of our links to communities and partner organisations. In doing so we will work together to shape the long-term future of the national park.”

Mr Stuart is due to take over as convener the day controversial further wild-camping bans come into force in many parts of the national park. Outdoor organisations, including Mountaineering Scotland and Ramblers Scotland, have opposed the introduction of new bylaws which they say risk criminalising outdoor enthusiasts who contravene the regulations.

The convener of national park board is responsible to Scottish ministers, with the role of ensuring the board’s policies and actions support the wider strategic priorities of ministers.

The post-holder leads the board on formulating strategy, promoting efficient and effective use of national park staff and other resources, representing the views of the board to the general public and making sure that when making decisions the board follows the guidance of Scottish ministers.

Linda McKay, who is stepping down in February 2017 said: “I would like to congratulate James on his election as convener of Loch Lomond & the Trossachs national park and look forward to working with him over the next couple of months to ensure a smooth transition.”

Loch Lomond & the Trossachs national park was established in 2002, the first in Scotland. It covers 1,865 sq km (720 sq miles) and has 21 munros, including Scotland’s most southerly 3,000-footer, Ben Lomond.

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