Ramblers victory in Scottish Access case

Ramblers Scotland President Dennis Canavan today welcomed the court decision which upheld public rights of access to the majority of the Boquhan estate near Kippen, Stirlingshire. Stirling Council and the Ramblers’ Association had opposed an application by Mr Euan Snowie of Boquhan for a declarator to exempt 40 acres of his estate from access rights in a court hearing held during May 2007. A locked gate which prevented access along an access route into the estate will now have to be opened up.

Dennis Canavan said: “We are delighted with Sheriff Cubie’s decision which reflects the intentions of the Scottish Parliament when the Land Reform Act was passed. This result sends a message to all landowners of big estates that people are entitled to walk on land provided they are acting responsibly in accordance with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. The decision also sends a message to local authorities that access rights apply along driveways and past gatehouses. There are a number of cases around the country where signs have been erected and gates locked and we hope the authorities will now take action knowing that the courts will back them up.”

Landowners Euan and Claire Snowie had sought to exclude walkers, cyclists and horseriders from 40 acres of their Boquhan estate, claiming they needed such a large area for privacy and security. Sheriff Cubie of Stirling Sheriff Court asserted that a smaller area surrounding the house was sufficient, amounting to around 15 acres, but access rights should be maintained on the driveways, wooded parts of the estate and over a riding area.

Dennis Canavan continued: “We do not think Mr Snowie should be concerned about this decision. We are confident that access can be made to work on his estate. Prior to the court case, the Ramblers had useful discussions with Mr Snowie and we look forward to having further meetings, if necessary, about how access can be managed.”

This decision is in contrast to that made in June 2007 by Sheriff Fletcher of Perth Sheriff Court who granted a declarator to Mrs Ann Gloag of Kinfauns Castle near Perth. This stated that statutory rights of access did not apply to 12 acres of her estate, although her application had been opposed by Perth & Kinross Council and the Ramblers’ Association. However, this case was different from the Boquhan situation in that the dispute stemmed from the fact that planning permission had been granted retrospectively by the council to Mrs Gloag for a mile-long security fence around the 12-acre area. The council planners had not taken sufficient account of access rights which the council access staff and Ramblers Scotland believed applied to woodland within that area.

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