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Highlands MSP calls for review of Scottish Outdoor Access Code


By Gavin Musgrove

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Highlands regional MSP Edward Mountain has called for a review of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
Highlands regional MSP Edward Mountain has called for a review of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Highlands and Islands MSP Edward Mountain has renewed his calls to the Scottish Government for the Scottish Outdoor Access Code to be updated and relaunched as the rural tourism season approaches.

Last summer, the Scottish Conservative MSP launched his campaign for a full review of the guidelines.

The MSP lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament which won cross-party support and has since consulted with various stakeholders on the issue including Ramblers Scotland, Scotways, National Farmers Union of Scotland, and Scottish Land & Estates.

He has also called on the Scottish Government to invest in ranger services and access infrastructure in time for summer tourism season, as part of his campaign calling for a full review of the code.

Mr Mountain told the Minister for Environment and Land Reform Mairi McAllan that the review was overdue.

He said: “Minister, I look forward to our meeting next week to discuss the access code.

“The code is nearly 20 years old now and given the new demands on the countryside, which became even more apparent during the pandemic, is it time now for an update and a relaunch?”

The Minister replied: “I know that this question has been considered and I would say from my understanding is, that there isn’t concrete evidence that revision is required.

"We have been dealing with different circumstances over the last couple of years but I believe that education and communication are the key ways that we will continue to strike that really important balance between an access right, a responsible access right, but an understanding that our countryside is a living and working one.

"I think education and communication are the keys to that but I look forward to discussing it with you further.”

Following the exchange, Mr Mountain said: “It’s not long until the tourism season begins again and I would like to see the Scottish Government commit to update and relaunching the Scottishy Outdoor Access Code.

“Over the last six months I have met with many stakeholders, from Ramblers Scotland to the National Farmers Union of Scotland, all of which are supportive of the code being reviewed.

“I am happy to hear the Minister believes communication and education are key to ensuring our countryside is enjoyed responsibly by all.

“However, I also believe the Scottish Government must consider the importance of ranger services and access infrastructure budgets too.

“We must avoid a summer like last year which was troubled with dirty camping, littering, and other irresponsible behaviour in our countryside.

“I look forward to raising these issues with the Minister in my meeting with her next week.”


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