Es­tate’s bid to block pub­lic ac­cess to na­tional park land kicked out

The Oban Times - - News -

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:­ search- judg­ments/ sheriff- ap­peal- court--- civil. www.face­book. com/oban­times

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