Alberta's new environment minister plans scrap the previous government's proposed plan for protected areas in western Alberta.

Last November, the NDP government announced eight new parks covering 4,000 square kilometres in what is known as Bighorn Country along the eastern edges of Banff and Jasper national parks.

On Tuesday, Environment Minister Jason Nixon called the NDP's plan for the area flawed and said the United Conservative Party government will not go ahead with it.

“Our priority for the area remains what has always been for that community,” Nixon said, “which is to continue to preserve one of the most beautiful places in the world to preserve for future generations, while still using it in a responsible manner for economic and recreational purposes.”

Residents and area officials have raised concerns about how the proposed project might affect oil and gas exploration, the forestry industry and off-road vehicle use.

Nixon said the province will return to the North Saskatchewan regional planning process to better understand economic and environmental implications for the area.

The government is also considering trail fees for off-road vehicles in Bighorn Country, to help municipalities keep up with trail upkeep and conservation efforts.

The executive director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society for Northern Alberta said she was disappointed with the decision to cancel the proposal.

With files from The Canadian Press