ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION ON SCOTTISH RIGHTS OF PUBLIC ACCESS TO LAND

Ramblers Scotland, in conjunction with Richard Lochhead MSP, have held a roundtable discussion at the Scottish Parliament. Present at the meeting where a number of interested groups and Andrew Thin, Chair, of the recently established Scottish Land Commission.

The full notes, and correspondence from Richard Lochhead MSP, can be viewed via the link below but one of the key issues discussed was around conflict resolution. As we know from local access issues the current conflict resolution process requires expensive legal proceedings at the Sheriff Court.

Whilst Local Access Forums (LAF) are in place, these are merely advisory bodies for the local authorities who have the responsibility for compliance with the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. LAFs are structured only to have a mediation function and mediation is only successful where both parties in conflict wish to find a mutually agreeable solution. Failure to mediate, under current procedures, leaves the courts as the only route to have a final adjudication and there is a considerable reluctance on the part of the local authorities to take this route due to the legal costs.

At the roundtable discussions the concept of introducing an “Access Tribunal” was raised. If established, this tribunal would be made up of people with experience of access issues and would have the power of “arbitration” on matters of access. Parallels were drawn with the Children’s Panel process which provides a critically important, and highly respected, step between mediation and legal action.

As a Community Council we strongly support this concept and have written back to Mr Lochhead MSP accordingly. The opportunity of referral to such a tribunal, without high legal costs, would allow local access issues to be brought to a proper conclusion.

 

Attached : Letter from Richard Lochhead MSP & notes of Roundtable meeting :  RL MSP re Access Rountable

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