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Latest news stories from ScotWays.

New ScotWays Publication - Summaries of Court Case Decisions

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A free ScotWays publication – Access to the Outdoors in Scotland: A summary of relevant court decisions – can now be downloaded from the ScotWays website.

This publication provides summaries of 132 court decisions in various fields that have a bearing on outdoor access: access rights, public rights of way, private rights of way (servitudes), liability, and navigation and foreshore rights. It includes cases from a previous ScotWays publication (Rights of Way: the authority of case law) and summaries of cases that have previously appeared on the ScotWays website. But all these cases have been reviewed and updated, and many other cases of interest have been added.

The bibliography at the end of the publication provides links to other useful downloads and websites.

You can download the publication free of charge from the ScotWays website (just click on the link below). It is designed to be used as an electronic publication, but ScotWays can provide printed versions at a cost of £20 to cover printing costs, plus £1 postage.

New online resource for walkers & cyclists in Fife

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Walkers and cyclists in Fife can now share their favourite routes and paths, thanks to a community website www.smartcommunityfife.org.uk, where they can upload previously unpublished walking and cycling routes. This new online service was recently launched by local MP, Ming Campbell, at the start of one of the online routes in Falkland.

 

Each route is accompanied by a photo and description. The resource includes varied routes of different lengths and difficulties, from a short hidden walk in Falkland, to a challenging, but beautiful, walk along the old drovers’ road between Auchtermuchty and Abernethy.

 

Peter Winterborn, Chairperson of Smart Community Fife, says: “www.smartcommunityfife.org.uk provides the latest locally-written news and events, as well as a frequently updated guide to what’s on and what to do in the area. Now we want to build on the success of the site by responding to recent survey results, requesting maps of local walking and cycling routes. Our free, easy-to-use on-line system allows site users to share favourite routes with others. We are keen for people to continue uploading their favourite routes in the future; with their help, we can keep the information on Fife routes both relevant and interesting.”

 

Routes can be seen and uploaded to www.smartcommunityfife.org.uk/routes

Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill Consultation - ScotWays response

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ScotWays have commented on the Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill. In particular, we are concerned that the proposed new duty on land owners to manage deer stocks in a sustainable way may lead to more constructed tracks and more fences in Scotland's hills. We believe this could diminish the wild character and beauty of these places that so many people enjoy and, in the case of fences, have an adverse affect on statutory access rights.

Our full consultation response is set out below.

   

Thekla Garland,

Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill Team

Landscapes and Habitats

The Scottish Executive

1A–North

Victoria Quay

EDINBURGH
EH6 6QQ                                                                                                                                          

 

Dear Ms Garland

 

WILDLIFE AND NATURAL ENVIRONMENT BILL

 

Thank you for consulting ScotWays on the content of a proposed Wildlife Bill. Most of this consultation lies beyond ScotWays’ remit, so we do not respond to your long list of questions. Many of the proposals could have beneficial effects for public enjoyment of the outdoors, however, there is one main point that we wish to make from our own role in securing, protecting and promoting the enjoyment of public rights of access to land.

 

Underlying the proposals relating to deer, there is a degree of tension between nature conservation and upland land management, but it is possible that action on these tensions could bypass the values held by the wider public for enjoyment of open-air recreation in Scotland’s hills. Thus, the proposal for a new duty on owners for the ‘sustainable’ management of deer stocks implies more intensive management, which could in turn lead to more estate-road construction in the hills, and more fencing. Both would be unwelcome to those who resort to the hills, as diminishing the wild character and beauty enjoyed there.

 

More intensive management of moorland for grouse shooting is already having this kind of effect – including a surge of road building and fence construction in parts of the eastern Grampians. Many of these fences, constructed ostensibly to control deer (and thereby the tick and the louping-ill disease), are electric and constitute very unwelcome barriers to public access. A good number of these fences are not compliant with Part 1 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. So the outdoor recreation community would want to be involved in debate about how proposals for deer are to be implemented, were they to become law. More generally, action on all these proposals should have regard to statutory access rights.

 

It would be wonderful if care for Scotland’s great natural beauty were to receive the same level of administrative and legislative effort put to nature conservation.

 

You may put this response on the open public record.

 

Yours sincerely,

  

John W Mackay

Vice-chairman 

ScotWays objects to additional Trump planning applications

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In a letter to Aberdeenshire Council (attached), ScotWays has explained its objections to the additional Trump planning applications on which a decision will be made tomorrow (Tuesday, 1st September).

 

ScotWays has objected to the development because of its continuing concern that access rights should not be compromised by this major development.

 ScotWays has also expressed concern about the possibility of the Council using its compulsory purchase powers, which would result in some people being forced out of their homes in order to make it possible for the additional developments to go ahead.

The letter is set out below.

Mr Robert McGregor

Aberdeenshire Council

Formartine Area Office

29 Bridge Street

Ellon

AB41 9AA

  

August 27, 2009

 

Your ref: Area Committee/KN/RM

 

Dear Mr McGregor,

 

Planning applications for the Menie Estate Golf Course and Resort, Balmedie References: APP/2009/ 1620, 1623, 1629, 1631 and 1633

 

ScotWays does not wish to make representations at the Formartine Committee meeting, but we would be grateful if you could draw our concerns to the attention of members.

 

ScotWays has objected to the five planning applications that seek to extend the present outline consent for the Menie development to various enclaves of land, presently not in the ownership of the developer. This note reiterates and expands on our objections.

 

As is its normal practice, ScotWays addresses cases of this kind from its own purposes, namely, to ensure that public access rights are secured when development takes place, both the statutory access rights under the Land Reform Act and public rights of way under pre-existing procedures. Councils have duties to protect both categories of access – for new statutory rights under s.13 of the 2003 Act, and for rights of way under s46 of the Countryside Scotland Act 1967.

 

For the present five planning cases (and may we address them collectively in this single letter) our view is as follows.

 

First, it is essential that the general condition on access attached to the existing consent in outline for this development is applied to all five additional proposals. ScotWays would wish to be involved in any further debate about the application of this condition, as the project evolves.

 

It is our view that public rights of way exist on the access roads to the fishing station and thereby to the beach, and also down towards Leyton Cottage and onwards to the beach. These ways are not on existing maps, but it is normal in Scotland that public rights of way exist in many places where they are not documented. It is sufficient in law that a route meets the conditions for the establishment of a way – it then exists, regardless of whether it is on any official record, convenient as the latter may be. We think that past patterns and volumes of public use on these routes, along with the longevity of such use, makes the case for public right of way status.

 

If these additional developments were to proceed, this would change the context for public access, as the developer would be able to promote a greater degree of exclusivity, which would not in our view be in the wider public interest, given the land reform context of the 2003 Act.

 

There are reports that compulsory purchase order procedures may be deployed in the future, but we have no clear confirmation that this will happen. We are surprised that this could be considered a possible way forward, and would encourage the Council not to take this course of action.

 

Yours sincerely,

   

John Mackay

Vice-Chairman

 

Cc Sonya Galloway, Planning Officer

Cattle and public access

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The death last month of a dog walker on the Pennine Way in Yorkshire has highlighted the dangers of cattle, particularly when dogs are present. In the incident last month it appears that cows were panicked by the sight of the walker’s two dogs and stampeded, trampling the walker to death. The cows behaved aggressively because they were with their calves. Former Home Secretary, David Blunkett, was injured earlier in June by a charging cow when he was out walking with his guide dog, and another dog walker was killed by stampeding cattle in Suffolk last year.


The advice in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code is not to take your dog into fields where there are lambs, calves or other young animals. However, if you go into a field where cattle act aggressively and move towards you, the advice is that you should let the dog go and take the shortest, safest route out of the field.

The Health and Safety Executive has issued guidance on cattle and public access in Scotland (Agriculture Information Sheet No 17S). This advises farmers on the precautions they can take to ensure the safety of the public.

If a walker is injured by cattle, the farmer may have to pay compensation if he has not taken adequate precautions to protect the public. In a recent English court case (Shirley McKaskie v John Cameron, Blackpool County Court, 1st July 2009) a dog walker successfully sued a farmer for damages for injuries she suffered when attacked by a herd of cows as she was crossing a field.

Scottish Planning Policy Consultation – ScotWays Response

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As part of our work at ScotWays we comment on planning applications all over Scotland where we think there may be an adverse impact on public access. When making our comments we often refer to the Scottish Government’s planning policy documents, such as Scottish Planning Policy 11 – Open Space and Physical Activity, which includes the key phrase “Access rights and core path plans are material considerations in determining applications for planning permission”.

ScotWays recently submitted detailed comments to the Scottish Government in response to their consultation on the proposal to replace 17 existing planning policies, covering different issues, with a single, more concise, Scottish Planning Policy (SPP). In some respects we think that the proposed new Policy does not give sufficient protection to public access or to protection of the landscape which is of vital importance for enjoyment of the outdoors. We have made a number of suggestions for revisions of the draft Policy to deal with these issues.

The consultation period closed on 24th June and we await the outcome with interest. If you would like to view our full response, you can download the complete document from this website, just click on the ‘Downloads’ tab above. If you would like to read more about the SPP consultative draft, visit http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2009/04/01132105/0.