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Right to roam is not for Rover:
remember the lead when taking dogs on access land this summer.

Good advice from the CLA in England,
but sadly the situation in Scotland is not so conservation friendly


Filed 20 May 05

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) issued the following advice to those planning to take their dogs for walks in England and Wales. If only Scotland the same common sense could apply to Scotland, the legislation relating to access to the countryside being different north and south of the Border.

People planning to take their dogs walkies on access land (England & Wales) this summer are being urged by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) to be aware that between 1 March and 31 July dogs must be kept on a 2 metre lead and that dogs are totally excluded from some areas. As large areas of access land in the upper north west, north east and Wales open this bank holiday weekend (28 May), CLA is concerned that dog-walkers may unwittingly disturb nesting birds or livestock.

Figure 1:
Plover's eggs in nest on the ground at the edge of a
grazing field at Cultybraggan Farm
This is now only seen on the parts of the farm remote from rights of ways.
In farm fields closer to the urban settlement of Comrie most of such wildlife
has been destroyed by thoughtless walkers and their dogs.
(to enlarge Click Here)
Photo ©Kimpton Graphics

"We urge people visiting moorland areas to take care that they or their dogs do not to disturb nesting birds" said Mark Hudson, President of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), "Birds such as golden plover, black grouse, merlin, lapwing and curlew choose heather moorlands, included in the new access areas, as their nesting sites. There are also likely to be sheep and cows with young on open land areas.

"Before they head off, walkers should read The Moorland Visitor's Code which offers good guidance; and they should check local signs about keeping dogs on leads and about where dogs are not allowed."

All walkers are being urged to make three checks before they set off: check precisely where the new access land is; check what they can and can' t do on the access land; and check that the land isn't closed (or closed to dogs) for wildlife, farming or safety reasons. This may sound like a lot of hard work but caring walkers will want to ensure that they aren't putting themselves, wildlife and livestock in danger or impinging on the land management practices which are the lifeblood of the countryside.

To safely enjoy using the new right of access to open country the Country Land & Business Association recommends that you plan ahead by checking:

  • 1. WHERE you can go
    - Use a new Ordnance Survey Explorer Map that shows open access land
    - Check the maps on www.countrysideaccess.gov.uk or call 08450100 3298
    - Check the local information points and signage showing suggested routes

  • 2. WHAT you can do
    - Respect the Countryside Code and the Moorland Visitor> '> s Code
    - Understand your rights by reading the information on www.countrysideaccess.gov.uk or 'Countryside Access and the new rights' leaflet
    - Call the helpline if you have any questions 08450100 3298

  • 3. WHEN you can go
    - Check for local restrictions to access land on www.countrysideaccess.gov.uk
    - Check the local access information points
    - Respect the signs: they are there to protect you

Sadly in Scotland the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC), which is an integral part of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act, is far less caring about its nation's wildlife or farm livestock, or for farm businesses or indeed for the safety of walkers. Yet the Scottish Executive, and its agency Scottish Natural Heritage, profess to be amongst the foremost to cherish "conservation" and "biodiversity"(1, 2).

Figure 2:
Bluebells and broom at the margin of a barley field at Cultybraggan Farm.
The threat to ground nesting birds such as pheasant in this area is walkers' dogs
(to enlarge Click Here)
Photo ©Kimpton Graphics


It is also a great pity that in Scotland, the organisation that is regarded by some as the counterpart of the CLA north of the Border, has performed so poorly in relation to matters concerning access to the countryside (3, 4). The organisation in question was previously called the Scottish Landowners Federation (SLF) until it got too embarrassed about the word "landowner" and changed its name (and little else) to Scottish Rural Property and Business Association (SRPBA), no longer requiring its members to own any land (even a modest 10 acres). There now appears to be no organisation in Scotland that is seen to represent landowners in Scotland, yet all land has to be owned by somebody or by some body.



1. Irvine, James (2003). Does SNH conduct itself as an honest broker, or as a political manipulator?
SEE SCOTTISH OUTDOOR ACCESS CODE Homepage, filed 23 Oct 03, www.land-care.org.uk Click Here to View

2. Irvine, James (2005). Comment on Roger Wheater/Alex Hogg session "Enhancing our environment: holistic management or single species priorities". SCA conference "Getting the balance right: rural Scotland 2005", Edinburgh, 12th April 2005.
SEE SOCIAL/ECONOMIC/POLITICAL Homepage, 27 Apr 05, www.land-care.org.uk Click Here to View

3. Irvine, James (2003). Why I resigned from the Scottish Landowners Federation.
SEE SOCIAL/ECONOMIC/POLITICAL Homepage, 21 Nov 03, www.land-care.org.uk Click Here to View

4. Irvine, James (2005). Land-Care's response to Maurice Hankey: "Towards a modern rural economy: enterprise or regulation".
SEE SOCIAL/ECONOMIC/POLITICAL Homepage, 12 May 05, www.land-care.org.uk Click Here to View