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Scotland's Land Reform Act (2003) and Outdoor Access Code

Scotland's Land Reform Act has opened up the countryside for walking and cycling. The rest of the UK should follow its example ...
Headline Messages: 
  • The Land Reform Act gives Scotland the most progressive access arrangements in the UK.
  • It, and its clear and consensual approach to improving public access and resolving disputes, is a good model for other parts of the UK to follow.
  • The more opportunity there is for off-road cycling and cycle tourism in the countryside, the more money it can potentially make for national and local economies.  
Key facts: 
  • The public has lawful access to most land and inland water in Scotland, provided they act responsibly and follow the guidance in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (also for land managers). There are only a limited number of exemptions.
  • The Act does not distinguish between different modes of travel, whether on foot, cycle or horse: people exercising their rights have to decide for themselves whether their activity is responsible in the circumstances.
  • Mountain biking and leisure cycle tourism combined contribute between £236.2m and £358m per year to the Scottish economy, with a cumulative gross value added (GVA) of £129m.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • CTC strongly supports this legislation and its outcomes.
  • The new networks of ‘Core Paths’ are important not only for leisure cycling but also for cycle travel for utility purposes. Investment in healthy outdoor activities and in more sustainable ways to make journeys is vital, both locally, and in delivering on national aims for a healthier and more sustainable society. 
  • If monitoring shows that local authorities are not implementing their Core Path Plans voluntarily, the Scottish Government should consider revising the law to make it a legal duty.
  • There should be better integration of cycle routes created under the legal framework for access and those created under roads legislation. 
  • Increased recreational cycling and its promotion through off-road access, plus the provision of Core and Longer Distance Paths, is potentially highly beneficial for the economy.
  • Measures should be taken to remove locked gates and other barriers that are still preventing access for cycling through some landownerships. 
  • Problems that arise from sharing paths should be resolved by Local Access Officers and Local Access Forums, many of which have CTC members on them.
  • Similar legislation should be adopted in the rest of the UK.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
February 2015
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