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Draft Scottish Outdoor Access Code:
Lack of adequate public access to the responses to consultation
Filed 3 October 03
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.