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Back to Scottish Outdoor Access Code

Responses to

SNH Draft Scottish Outdoor Access Code

James Irvine

Teviot Scientific, Cultybraggan Farm, Comrie, by Crieff, Perthshire
Editor, LandCare Scotland and www.land-care.org.uk

(Filed 22 Sept 03)
© www.land-care.org.uk

The closing date for the consultation period for the Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) Draft Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC) was 30th June 2003 (1). According to information given by SNH to Land-Care, some 1300 responses had been received, some 400 coming from what SNH refers to as land managers (landowners, farmers and foresters to the rest of us), over 300 did not state their interest and over 100 identified themselves as recreation users (2).

There should be concern that SNH would appear to be set to act not only as the progenitors of the Draft Code (having previously largely ignored representations from those who work on the land) but as judge and jury in interpreting the responses to their consultation document. The track record of SNH as honest brokers in this regard is not good (3, 4).

I therefore arranged to visit SNH Battleby by Perth to view the responses SNH had received and that were in the public domain. An account of my findings and concerns are described in an email to Bridget Dales, Recreation and Access Group, SNH (5). There was no proper organisation of the responses, being just in files in listed and numbered in the order they were submitted - making it very difficult to trace any particular response from any particular organisation or other body.

In the time available on a single day I managed to review the first 500 plus of the responses that gave me a feel their general content. It was striking how clearly those who work and have direct responsibilities for the land expressed their concerns over the range of matters that have been previously transmitted to SNH over the years but largely ignored by SNH in its draft SOAC.

The Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) is running a conference on Land Reform in Perth on 1st October where SNH is due present a paper. Just what are they going to say in the face of such clear concerns from those who have responsibilities for working Scotland's land? SAC itself submitted a clearly thought-out response listing many concerns - as organisers of the conference are they going to be politically impartial so as not to upset their financial masters, or are they going to stand up for what the SAC themselves have articulated? Is SAC going to stand up against SNH for trying to manipulate a fait a complis on access to comply with the irrational political dogma of their financial masters?

Will the president of the National Farmers Union of Scotland, who is co-chairing the conference, stand up for what his organisation has articulated so clearly in its own publication - the Farming Leader (6)?

Will the convener of the Scottish Landowners Federation, who is the other co-chairman of the conference, be as equivocal as ever in representing a balanced cross-section of the views of the members of his organisation - or will he be more concerned with image and the scope for future bargaining than the substance of the matter at hand, selling the immediate interests of many of his members down the river?

© www.land-care.org.uk


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

2. Editorial (2003). Draft Scottish Outdoor Access Code: preliminary comments by SNH on responses to consultation.
Scottish Outdoor Access Code Homepage, Filed 28 July 03, www.land-care.org.uk, Click here to view

3. Irvine, James (2001). SNH Conference September 2000. Enjoyment and Understanding of the Natural Heritage: Finding the New Balance between Rights and Responsibilities: A Review of the Proceedings
LandCare Scotland (2001). Vol 1: p 25-32.Reproduced with permission
Land Reform Homepage/Access Homepage, Filed 22 January 03, www.land-care.org.uk, Click here to view

4. Irvine, James (2001). Scottish Natural Heritage’s Policy on Access: Is it being mis-sold in relation to enclosed Farmland next to Urban Communities? A Report on the Press Conference held by SNH at the Royal Highland Show, Ingliston, Edinburgh, June 2000
LandCare Scotland. Vol 1: p 19-24.
Reproduced with permission
Land Reform Homepage, Filed 7 January 03, www.land-care.org.uk, Click here to view

5. Irvine, James (2003). Email to Bridget Dales, SNH: Responses to Draft Scottish Outdoor Access Code Consultation
Scottish Outdoor Access Code Homepage, Filed 23 Sept 03, www.land-care.org.uk, Click here to view

6. Scottish Farming Leader (2003). Hard-hitting words on access rights. Scottish Farming Leader, The Journal of the NFUS, August 2003 page 6
Scottish Outdoor Access Homepage, Filed 28 July 03, www.land-care.org.uk, Click here to view