Last week I was contacted by a friend who told me that they were having difficulty in accessing the area around Roughrigg Reservoir for horse riding. The area has long had problems with landowners erecting and locking gates. I have reported a few of these in the past and the situation has not improved, and it could be said it has worsened. In 2011 I made a Freedom of Information Request to North Lanarkshire Council which revealed that between 2005 and 2011, of the 194 cases which had been reported 38 remained unresolved. In 2014 I submitted a new request seeking to update this information and find out how many more issues were unresolved.
In 2011 the following were unresolved:
2005 – 3
2006 – 4
2007 – 2
2008 – 3
2009 – 4
2010 – 11
2011 – 11
As of October 2014 the following were outstanding:
Clearly the Access Officers are doing a very good job and are having some success, but it is concerning that some issues (and my suspicion is that Roughrigg is one of the most long standing ones) is that some of these have been unresolved for as much as TEN YEARS! As a member of the Access Forum who represents walkers, cyclists and anglers I was very vocal in my view that NLC was failing in its duties by not pursuing legal action against landowners under Section 14 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. This is no longer the case and NLC has served notice on one landowner who was refusing to comply.
Before going down that road I’d like to see some sort of mediation between the interested parties to try and resolve the issues and the Roughrigg area would be a good place to start. I’d also like to see what financial aid is available to help landowners comply, perhaps aiding with renewal of gates or stiles, and also to help landowners with clearing the debris left by fly tipping, which is often the trigger for restrictive actions, or with anti-social behaviour which is another.
If you do have problems with outdoor access please check out the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and contact the Access Officers, as well as reporting this through the Fix My Street website/app. By encouraging reports we can put pressure on the council to fulfil its obligations and get the figures above down to zero.