Scots wary of right-to-roam extension

28 April 2000

Scots wary of right-to-roam extension

By Shelley Wright

SCOTLANDS government is set to introduce right-to-roam legislation that will give walkers access to all land, not just open country or mountains.

Deputy first minister Jim Wallace has announced that enclosed land will be included in a draft Land Reform Bill, out by the end of this month.

“I want to create opportunities for people to enjoy the countryside,” he said.

“This is most likely to be achieved by extending the right of access to all land rather than restricting it to open country and mountains.

“By including enclosed land, the draft Bill will give people the confidence to go out and enjoy our countryside.”

Farmers and landowners are united in their opposition to the proposal.

Jim Walker, Scottish NFU president, said: “We are concerned … that farmers have no effective remedy against those exercising their rights irresponsibly.”

The union and the Scottish Landowners Federation are concerned about farmers liability in the event of damage resulting from increased access.

But Mr Wallace insisted that concerns about dogs running loose over land, especially that carrying livestock, will also be addressed.

The right of access, Mr Wallace said, will not extend to buildings and their surroundings or to farm steadings unless there is an existing right of way.

Scottish Executive officials said the draft legislation would exempt fields with growing crops, and there will be restrictions to land carrying livestock.

As well as the right to roam, the draft land reform Bill will give tenants the right to buy land that is deemed to be managed badly by landlords.

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