Access and Conservation

by Nick Kempe

Access legislation for both England/Wales and Scotland is now a distinct possibility, with the new Labour Government having committed itself to the principle. Running up to the formulation of any possible legislation it is important that walkers and climbers have their views taken into account. The following statement about MCofS principles of access, agreed to by the MCofS Executive Committee, are published here for members to discuss. Please let us know your views on the Charter. It is important that the MCofS properly represents your views.
  1. The Right to Freedom of Access. Freedom of access to the hill and crag on foot for informal recreation should be a basic human right. In Scotland this right is embodied in the traditional freedom to roam. This includes the freedom to take risks, which is an integral part of mountaineering. The right to freedom of access should be incorporated into all government policy so that it becomes a precondition for landowners to receive public grants.
  2. The Responsibilities of Freedom of Access. All who enjoy access should take care to minimise their impacts and "tread lightly''. They should adopt an ethic of personal responsibility and be aware of the risks involved in these activities for which landowners or occupiers should not incur any liability. The responsibilities of access includes the acceptance of limitation on access for conservation or land-management purposes where these are mutually agreed.
  3. Meeting the Costs of Access Management. The costs of access management should be met without charging for access. Greater resources, principally from public funds, should be made available both to maintain and to improve existing public access particularly through measures such as redirecting agricultural and other subsidies.

The MCofS welcomes comments on the Access Charter and can be found at

4a St Catherines's Road
Perth, PH1 5SE
tel: 01738 638229, fax: 01738 442095

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