Scots press for path network

25 June 2001

Scots press for path network

By FWi staff

SCOTTISH farmers representatives are pressing Edinburgh for a path network to keep walkers away from their fields.

The National Farmers Union Scotland will tell the Scottish Parliament that this would allow good access to the countryside without compromising safety.

A draft land reform Bill out for consultation until 30 June would permit “responsible” access to farmland for passage and other recreation.

The right-to-roam legislation has met opposition from farmers and landowners.

NFUS vice president John Kinnaird said: For us who work in the fields of Scotland, “responsible” means “on paths”.

“I firmly believe that the vast majority of those who want access to the countryside would be best served by the ability to take a walk safely and separately from crops, animals and machinery.

“Most of the difficulties involve how to deal with enclosed land – thats
fields. Farming operations can be dangerous and so can animals.

People could not be expected to know what is safe, and what isnt, and farmers cannot be everywhere explaining dangers, said Mr Kinnaird.

Even if we got the public to take the risk of damage to themselves or to others, why should they be exposed to such a problem?

There was a straightforward solution insisted Mr Kinnaird.

If government thinks its important to get people into the countryside – and we agree – then they should put money on the table to let councils get on with the job.

Building decent paths – especially near towns and cities – has to be the solution to getting public access with public safety.

Mr Kinnaird said open hills do not generally present a problem as farm animals are thin on the ground and can keep their distance from people.


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