Ramblers blocked

In his critique of Scotland’s right to roam legislation, Arthur Greenan (Letters, 18 July) is correct in pointing out the difficulties in dealing with obstructions.

Landowners can still block paths with loads of dung, rotten tatties, fences, padlocked gates etc and claim they are doing this for any other purpose than preventing public access.

Local authorities are refusing to take court action against such landowners because they believe they may be unsuccessful. The Scottish Government could correct this when it next brings forward new legislation on land reform or environmental justice.

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While the focus of Mr Greenan’s complaint is lack of action by East Lothian Council in the lowlands, we also need action in the uplands.

Mile upon mile of deer fencing is being erected across our wild landscapes by landowners who appear to be incapable of co-ordinating their deer management with neighbouring estates and with no consideration for public access rights.

Some of this fencing is electrified, making it nearly impossible to climb by anyone trying to cross the fencing while exercising their statutory rights. Legislators need to consider, as a matter of urgency, whether the use of electrified fences to control deer should be prohibited and whether all deer fencing should be brought under planning control.

Unfortunately, the omens are not good, despite a mountain of evidence and masses of representations piling up on the desk of the planning minister, Derek Mackay.

He still appears remarkably reluctant to use the planning control mechanism to protect our landscapes. While he hesitates to impose restrictions on those landowners who are building new tracks onto the tops of our hills, what hope is there that he will do anything about electrified deer fencing until someone is 
injured or killed?

Unfortunately for Mr Greenan, with his suggestion that some of these problems might be solved with a new form of government, the answer is that the present Scottish Government already has all the powers it needs to protect the public interest in the enjoyment of our land and water. It simply will not use them, preferring to touch the political forelock to the rich and powerful who own most of Scotland.

Dave Morris

Director, Ramblers 

Milnathort, Kinross