Back to Scottish Outdoor Access
SNH Draft Scottish Outdoor Access Code
Teviot Scientific, Cultybraggan Farm, Comrie,
by Crieff, Perthshire
Editor, LandCare Scotland and www.land-care.org.uk
(Filed 22 Sept 03)
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?
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
Scottish Outdoor Access Code Homepage, Filed 28 July 03, www.land-care.org.uk,
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
Land Reform Homepage/Access Homepage, Filed 22 January 03, www.land-care.org.uk,
Click here to view
4. Irvine, James (2001). Scottish
Natural Heritages 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
Scottish Outdoor Access Code Homepage, Filed 23 Sept 03, www.land-care.org.uk,
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,
here to view