Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has released research findings
from the first year of a three-year study into responsible behaviour
amongst recreational users and land managers. The findings show
that the majority of both recreational users and land managers
are aware of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and its content,
but that farmers are still reporting problems when it comes to
access-taking on Scottish farmland.
Three quarters of all recreational users reported feeling
very comfortable taking access in the countryside while the same
percentage of land managers reported problems associated with
public access in the last 2-3 months, on a range of problems.
Land managers reported that some problems had got worse over
the last three years, most notably litter, gates being left open
or closed inappropriately and trouble with dogs not being kept
under appropriate control.
Recreational users were generally positive in their views of
land managers, although they did express a desire that land managers
conduct land management to minimise interference with people
accessing the countryside.
Land managers themselves did tend to have a more negative view
of recreational users and their behaviours, although these views
have improved since earlier studies.
NFU Scotland Access Officer, Sue Hilder, said:
“Many of the problems currently encountered by land managers
were already happening before access legislation came into effect
and have continued to occur since its introduction. The problems
don’t seem to be significantly affected by the legislation
either way, and many farmers feel that there's no point in reporting
some issues as there's no obvious solution.
“NFU Scotland is encouraging its members to work with
their local authority and other bodies to help integrate access
and land management. Contact information for advice on access
planning is available from the Outdoor Access Scotland Website,
www.outdooraccess-scotland.com. We hope that farmers will also
write to us describing incidents that have occurred on their
land. This will assist in the process of keeping the Scottish
Outdoor Access Code under review.
“Far and away the biggest issue concerning farmers is
the mixing of people and dogs with livestock, and the potential
for injury to the public or disturbance of the animals. The feedback
I receive is mostly to do with worries about anticipated incidents,
rather than actual incidents, but nevertheless the concern is
“Farmers also feel that whilst people may know the Code
exists, they may be more conscious of their rights than their
responsibilities, and may not yet be aware of the detailed guidance
about certain situations.
“It is vital is that the Code becomes part of the public
consciousness and starts to inform their behaviour. It is also
crucial that SNH’s public education programme continues
to be given the highest priority, and that other stakeholders,
including farmers, remember that they also have a role in increasing
awareness and understanding of the Code.”
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