Policy & Lobbying
A statutory right of access to most land and inland water has existed in Scotland since February 2005. The legislation that created this right, Part 1 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, places reciprocal obligations on access takers and land managers to behave reasonably and responsibly in terms of the exercise and facilitation of access rights.

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code has been developed to give further detailed guidance on how responsible behaviour might be achieved by both those accessing the countryside and land managers. 

Scottish Land & Estates’s policy position is as follows:
  • Scottish Land & Estates works in partnership with other relevant organisations and government agencies to ensure that both access takers and land managers understand the obligations that accompany the right of access.
  • Scottish Land & Estates monitors the impacts of the right of access on rural businesses.
  • Scottish Land & Estates works in partnership with other relevant organisations and government agencies to find new and innovative solutions in areas where public access places a burden on land management.
  • Scottish Land & Estates continues to call for appropriate levels of public funding to be available to facilitate public access to private land.
  • Scottish Land & Estates continues to call for a strong and well funded public outdoor access education and awareness campaign.

Current areas of work:

Representation on access fora and other bodies
Scottish Land & Estates sits on the National Access Forum which meets 3 times a year.  We are actively involved in a number of the Forum's subgroups.  The organisation is also represented by members on most of Scotland's 34 local access forums.  Scottish Land & Estates has a place on the Scottish Countryside Access Network Committee.  We are a partner organisation in the Paths for All Partnership.

Developing communication and mutual understanding
For a number of years Scottish Land & Estates has been involved in promoting better communication and mutual understanding between land managers and those who use the countryside recreationally.  One example of this work is our active assistance in Scottish Natural Heritage's development of the Heading for the Scottish Hills webservice.  Other contributors to this project include the Mountaineering Council for Scotland and the Association of Deer Management Groups.  View the Heading for the Scottish Hills webservice here.

Working with the Government to ensure public good benefits from outdoor access are properly recognised and funded
Scottish Land & Estates works on a number of fronts to ensure that public goods and services obtained from private land is properly recognised and funded.  Access is one such area.

Information and Advice
Scottish Land & Estates has developed an extensive range of guidance materials designed to assist land managers to successfully integrate outdoor access with their own management activities.  These materials are available below.  

    Information Sheets

    • 01/07/2010 - Access 01: The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003: Summary of Part 1 - Access Rights
      There is a right of access to most land and inland water in Scotland provided it is exercised responsibly.  The right exists for those crossing land and for undertaking recreational, relevant educational, or for certain commercial/for profit activities.
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    • 01/07/2010 - Access 02: Public Access and Liability in Scotland
        Under the terms of the Occupiers’ Liability (Scotland) Act 1960, and the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, occupiers of land owe a duty of care to anyone entering onto their land or premises.  Under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 (the access legislation) a general public right of access is established over most lan
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    • 01/07/2010 - Access 03: Core Paths and the Core Paths Planning Process
      Part 1 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 (the Act) places a statutory duty on access authorities (local authorities and national park authorities), to draw-up a Core Paths Plan and to review and amend that Plan at reasonable intervals.   The Act does not place a duty on the access authority or anyone else in ter
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    • 01/07/2010 - Access 04: Model Paths Agreement
      Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has developed a model path agreement for discretionary use by local authorities, National Park Authorities (hereafter referred to as local authorities) and land managers.  The SRPBA acted as a consultee in the development process.  Path agreements would apply to land where rights of responsible
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    • 01/07/2010 - Access 05: Outdoor Access and Biosecurity
      The occurrence and/or spread of disease among farm animals is an ever present and on-going concern for many land managers. Consequently, biosecurity measures are often built into livestock management as a matter of course.Concerns were expressed by land managers prior to the introduction of the right of responsible access in Sco
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    • 01/07/2010 - Access 06: Powers of Entry - Access
      This information sheet will cover powers of entry as they relate to access authority duties under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 and the Countryside (Scotland) Act 1967 only. Other Government or public agency powers of entry for reasons unrelated to access will not be considered herein. Please refer to Information Sheet Acc
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    • 01/07/2010 - Access 07: Powers of Entry - Natural Heritage
      This information sheet will cover powers of entry as they relate to Scottish Natural Heritage duties to protect the natural heritage only. Other Government or public agency powers of entry will not be considered herein. Please refer to Information Sheet Access 06 for information on the powers of entry of access authorities in th
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    • 01/07/2010 - Access 08: Fundng for Access
      This Information Sheet gives information on the possible sources of funding to facilitate public outdoor access.  Most land managers will find that the main source of public funding for access is through the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP), however there are possibilities for other sources of funding too and we ha
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    • 27/09/2011 - Access Signage Case Studies and Illustrative Examples (accompanying AC09)
      The case studies and illustrative examples provided here accompany Scottish Land & Estates’ Information Sheet Access 09: Outdoor Access Signage.  It should be remembered that all cases will have their own specific set of circumstances which, whilst the chosen solution may be appropriate for those circs, it may not be transfer
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    • 01/07/2010 - Access 09: Outdoor Access Signage
      Signposts, waymarkers, interpretation and information boards and notices are one of the main tools land managers have to communicate with those taking access on their land and water.  Signage can help the public to take access responsibly and allow a land manager to carry out operations safely - guiding people away from sensiti
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    • 01/07/2010 - Access 10: Fencing (and other stock barriers) and outdoor access
      The access legislation implemented in Scotland in early 2005 requires that land managers should manage land responsibly for outdoor access, i.e. a land manager should not do anything which unreasonably prevents or deters people from taking responsible outdoor access and should take proper account of the interests of access users
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    • 01/07/2010 - Access 11: Access rights and the Disability Discrimination Act
      The term “DDA” is used to describe disability discrimination legislation in general. There are two pieces of primary legislation namely the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Disability Rights Commission Act 1999 but also a number of amending acts and regulations as well as a number of Codes of Good Practice. The Dis
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    • 01/07/2010 - Access 12: Power to exempt particular land from access rights
      Section 11 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 gives powers to access authorities to promote Orders to exclude land from access rights for up to two years. Where the exclusion is for less than six days the access authority can decide the Order, and where the exclusion is between six days and two years the Order will be decide
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    • 01/07/2010 - Access 13: Criminal behaviours which interact with access rights
      This information sheet provides advice on some of the more common existing criminal offences which can interact with access rights.  It draws heavily on Annex 1 of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (the Code), “Existing criminal offences created by statute”, but extends that information to highlight to land managers the app
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    • 01/07/2010 - Access 14: Access officers, local access forums and the National Access Forum
      Local authorities and the national park authorities (access authorities) have a number of duties under the terms of Part 1 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, these include: upholding access rights; drawing up a core paths plan; and establishing a local access forum.
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    • 01/07/2010 - Access 15: Deer Stalking - Communicating with access users
      Communicating effectively with those taking access in the hills during times of peak stalking activity has been a challenging issue for deer stalkers for some time.  It is recognised that there can be geographical and timing issues which can make such communication difficult.  The SRPBA has worked collaboratively with other in
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    • 01/07/2010 - Access 16: BASC Codes of Practice
      The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) Codes of Practice set the standards for shooting.  BASC provide Codes of Practice (free of charge) for: Air rifles                             Wildfowling                                    Picking-up Sh
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    • 01/07/2010 - Access 17: Outdoor Access and the protection of nature conservation interests
      Outdoor access can co-exist harmoniously with nature conservation interests and does so in many instances.  There may be some circumstances in which land managers may need to afford additional protection to particularly vulnerable areas.  For example, an area awarded a high conservation designation status (such as a Ramsar or
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    • 01/07/2010 - Access 18: The Muirburn Code in relation to outdoor access
      Informed by Scotland’s Moorland Forum, the Scottish Government has published guidance on how to carry out burning of heather moorland safely and effectively.   This guidance is presented in the “The Muirburn Code”, and in the more comprehensive “Prescribed Burning on Moorland: Supplement to the Muirburn Code: A Guide
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    • 01/07/2010 - Access 19: Events and Commercial Businesses which utilise access rights
      The access legislation (Part 1 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003) states that access rights can be exercised only for recreational purposes; for the purpose of carrying on a relevant educational activity; or for the purposes of carrying on, commercial or for profit, an activity which the person exercising the right could ca
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    • 01/07/2010 - Access 20: Outdoor Access to fields with Cattle - Guidance for Land Managers
      Reports of high profile cases in England in which walkers with dogs have been injured or killed when crossing fields with cattle has led to concerns in Scotland about the farmer’s responsibilities for the safety of those exercising public rights of access in fields with cattle. The law in Scotland on these matters is different
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    • 15/06/2011 - Access 21: Geocaching: Information for Land Owners
      Geocaching is a relatively new recreational pastime but one which is growing in popularity. This information sheet provides land managers with information on the geocaching and how the access to land that it requires sits with Scotland’s outdoor access legislation.
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    • 20/12/2011 - Access 22 - The Business Case for Outdoor Access
      There are many farmers and landowners who feel that investing in the provision of outdoor access infrastructure will not generate a return for their business.  Whilst it is true to say that landowners cannot put up a turnstile at the start of a path or foot of a hill and charge the public for being on the ground, Scottish outdo
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    • 11/02/2011 - Access 23 - Create multiple benefits from providing for outdoor access
      Many businesses, particularly larger ones, undertake activity for the benefit of others and wider society.  This type of activity is often brought together under the heading of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).  The public is now used to such activity and to the associated terminology, since CSR policies have been activel
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    • 14/02/2012 - Access 24: Public Rights of Way and Statutory Access Right
      This information sheet sets out the legal basis on which public rights of way (ROWs) exist in Scotland.  It goes on to explain their continuing significance since the introduction of the statutory right of access (SAR) in Scotland in 2005 and to detail the key differences between rights of way and core paths.
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