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Back to Scottish Outdoor Access Code HOMEPAGE

Draft Scottish Outdoor Access Code:
Lack of adequate public access to the responses to consultation

Editorial

Filed 3 October 03
© www.land-care.org.uk

The closing date for responses to the Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) Consultation document on their Draft Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC) was 30th June 2003. A total of 1386 responses were received by SNH by that date or shortly after, the vast majority of authors indicating that they had no objection to their submissions being in the public domain.

These submissions are available for viewing by prior appointment at SNH offices at Battleby by Perth and at Edinburgh during normal urban office hours. They are kept in numerous lever arch files with the entries arranged in the order in which they were received by SNH - not by author. Each item carries a code as to the interest of the author if it has been stated in the response. A hard copy of the list of responses is provided for any member of the public attending SNH offices to view the responses, but it would be useful to be able to view that list before visiting.

Land-Care has now been provided by SNH with the list of those who have responded to the consultation document in pdf format - Click HERE to view.

Land-Care has also now been provided by SNH with the breakdown of these responses according to the stated interests of the respondents - Click here to view

There is no database available to viewers to aid them in finding specific responses that they may be interested, except for an excel spreadsheet. It would be wise to get the functional excel spreadsheet downloaded to your computer over the internet by prior request to SNH before visiting as it may well not be available for transfer to your computer during your visit.

Land-Care managed to achieve this before making a second visit to SNH at Battleby by Perth. At the time of filing this report (i.e. 3 months after the closing date) the spreadsheet is not available on the SNH website (www.snh.org.uk). It is not possible to use a search or find function on the pdf version of the list now available on Land-Care.

If readers of Land-Care email us Land-Care would be happy to send (as an email attachment) the spreadsheet in its original version as supplied by SNH should anyone have difficulty in obtaining it direct from SNH.

To use the spreadsheet during your visit to SNH you would be required to bring your own computer with you. As already mentioned the spreadsheet is not a database as normally understood, and none of the text of the responses are available to the public through SNH in electronic form. A CD-ROM of the responses has not been prepared, which would have provided a highly useful information base for material that is supposed to be in the public domain. It would have met any criteria for openness that the Scottish Executive and SNH claim they are so keen about. The process could have been off to a head start as some 30% of the responses were submitted in electronic form thereby simply requiring direct transfer to CD-ROM format. Doubtless much of the remaining 60% could have been available in electronic form if it had been asked for, or could be converted by scanning technology.

Currently the public has a difficult task of getting useful access to read the responses. SNH has refused to create a CD-ROM as suggested above. Indeed it refuses to release any text of any response. That means most people living in rural areas (and indeed urban dwellers in cities, towns and villages other than Edinburgh and Perth) are greatly inconvenienced by these unnecessary restrictions, even if they had the time to visit within the imposed constraints. To date only two persons have visited SNH to review the responses, very largely no doubt on account of the difficulty of efficiently carrying out the task.

 

Land-Care is willing to publish individual responses if authors wish it

Land-Care is willing to publish any of the responses as submitted to SNH if the authors of the responses would like us to do so. Authors, wishing to have the responses to the draft SOAC which they previously sent to SNH to be now published on Land-Care website, should send an electronic copy direct to Land-Care together with a statement that that is their wish. The email address for this purpose is editor@land-care.org.uk

The Scottish Agricultural College, the National Farmers Union of Scotland, and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors have agreed that their responses to SNH be published on the Land-Care website. The Scottish Landowners Federation have refused.

Further Reading

List of responses received by SNH to its Draft Scottish Access Code Consultation (Click here to view).

This is in pdf format and has no find or search facility. Those wishing to obtain the original excel spreadsheet version should apply direct to SNH at Perth or Edinburgh to have it downloaded: or in case of difficulty Land-Care would be pleased to provided it as an email attachment in response to requests from its readers.

www.land-care.org.uk