Estate’s bid to block public access to national park land kicked out
LOCH Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority has welcomed an appeal decision to uphold public access rights at an estate within the national park.
The decision was in favour of the park authority’s argument that the owners of Drumlean Estate within the park were blocking the public access rights as set out in the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.
This will mean the estate owners will have to comply with an enforcement notice issued by the park authority in 2013.
Gordon Watson, chief executive of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, said: ‘The national park authority has a duty to uphold the right to responsible access granted to the public by the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, so we are delighted with this decision.
‘ We took legal action against the estate in 2013 following complaints from members of the public that access to an area between Ben Venue and Loch Ard was being blocked by locked high gates and prohibitive signage, and after repeated attempts by us to resolve the issue with the owners directly.
‘The initial judgement in 2015 found against the park authority and held that there had not been a breach of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.
‘The park authority immediately lodged an appeal against that decision which, if it had been allowed to stand, would have undermined the legisla- tion and set an unhelpful legal precedent for access rights in Scotland.
‘It has been a long road to get to this point but we are delighted with this decision for the clarification it provides to other access authorities but, most importantly, for the public who can continue to enjoy their access rights within this area of the national park.’
Brendan Paddy, director of Ramblers Scotland, said: ‘This excellent ruling ensures walkers, cyclists and others can make the most of the countryside around Ben Venue and Loch Ard – including the beautiful Drumlean Estate.
‘We welcome the national park’s efforts to secure this result, which serves as an important reminder that landowners using locked gates, high fences and prohibitive signs to block responsible access should be a thing of the past.
‘ We believe it is vital that authorities always challenge attempts to block walkers, campers or other recreational users – so that everyone can enjoy the health and social benefits of Scotland’s wonderful outdoors.’
The full decision is expected to be published on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals website in the coming weeks, visit: www.scotcourts.gov.uk/ search- judgments/ sheriff- appeal- court--- civil. www.facebook. com/obantimes