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Back to Scottish Outdoor Access Code

Why no QMS response to SOAC?

Open letter to Jim Walker

James Irvine

Teviot Agriculture, Cultybraggan Farm, Comrie, Perthshire
Teviot Scientific Consultancy, Edinburgh

(Filed 16 June 03)

Jim Walker
Chairman Quality Meat Scotland
The Rural Centre
Ingliston, Newbridge
EH28 8NZ

Monday 16th June 03

Dear Jim Walker,

At a recent visit to Quality Meat Scotland HQ at Ingliston I had an opportunity to ask Andy McGowan, Industry Development Manager for QMS, if QMS was intending to make a response to the draft Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC) that is currently available for consultation until June 30th (1).

I was surprised and dismayed by his response that QMS had decided on his recommendation not to make any response as, in his words, “QMS had more productive things to do”.

He informed me that the basis for this statement was that QMS (apparently again on his recommendation) regarded the SOAC has “going to happen anyway and that a response from QMS would not make any difference”.

I would like to remind you of the statement on the QMS website (2) which says:

"QMS has two main objectives:

1. To improve the competitive position of the Scottish meat and livestock industry at home and abroad, thereby bringing tangible benefit to the sectors involved, from primary production to point of sale.

2. To provide co-ordination and leadership for the whole of the industry”

As a livestock farmer doing his best to run a quality suckler beef herd in the immediate vicinity of a substantial urban settlement I am greatly concerned at the extent of open access, both day and night, to virtually all parts of the farm that is proposed in the draft SOAC. This access extends to horses, mountain bikes, group activities of undefined size, the climbing of fences and walls, non-motorised activities in the air above the land, recreational functions of all sorts, etc - all based on the access-takers presumed understanding of what constitutes responsible behaviour.

It is well recognised that there is an ever widening gap between urban and rural attitudes, with urban dwellers understanding less and less about how the countryside works. Surely it must be unreasonable to impose such an extensive burden of untutored access on to livestock farms next urban settlements, especially where extensive rights of way already exist. To do so would significantly compromise biosecurity and make good livestock management much more difficult to achieve.

Scottish Natural Heritage invites responses and says that it will pay attention to them, and that each response matters.

I would urge QMS to take this matter much more seriously than it appears to be doing. Failure to do so would not be in keeping with the objectives of QMS as stated above and for which livestock farmers such as myself pay our subscriptions.

Yours sincerely


Dr James Irvine
Cultybraggan Farm, Comrie, Perthshire
Email: landcarescotland@aol.com
Email: editor@land-care.org.uk

Copy to: www.land-care.org.uk



1. Scottish Natural Heritage (2003). Draft Scottish Outdoor Access Code: a document for consultation

2. QMS website

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