Scottish land managers report increase in abuse from the public

A quarter of land managers looking after Scotland’s countryside have experienced anti-social behaviour from the public this year.

Saturday, 17th October 2020, 4:45 pm
Dirty campers...have strewn the countryside with their discarded rubbish, leaving sites like this for land managers and their staff to clean up.

Land managers said they had witnessed fighting, people shouting abuse and noise from parties.

The findings are part of a report into responsible access to the countryside carried out by Scottish Land and Estates (SLE), the membership body for land managers, landowners and rural businesses.

Carried out in September, the survey of almost 100 SLE members also found that:

* 40 per cent had issues with the public lighting irresponsible fires, including chopping down trees and pulling up fence posts for firewood and leaving burnt patches.

* 30 per cent had problems with ‘dirty campers’ leaving mess behind and not burying human waste.

* 36 per cent had experienced members of the public parking irresponsibly by blocking gates and country roads.

* 62 per cent reported litter being left behind.

* And 50 per cent had problems with irresponsible dog walkers letting their dogs off the lead near livestock and wildlife and not bagging and binning their dog poo.

Sarah-Jane Laing, chief executive of Scottish Land and Estates, said: “We want people to enjoy visiting the Scottish countryside, safely and responsibly.

“Taking in the fresh air, nature and peacefulness of rural Scotland can be extremely beneficial for our mental and physical health.

“Sadly, there is a minority that is causing a great deal of harm to wildlife and livestock, the environment and other people who visit, live and work in the countryside.

“Our members who manage the land work hard to ensure wildlife flourishes, to help the environment and to provide safe access for the public on land in rural Scotland.

“We would like to see a Scotland-wide education programme which better publicises the Scottish Outdoor Access Code to ensure people know how to behave safely and responsibly.

“We also want to see more support for the police to allow better enforcement of existing legislation to deal with those causing serious problems.

“This way everyone can enjoy the countryside safely.”

In Scotland, you can go on to most land to enjoy the outdoors – as long as you behave responsibly. This is known as Scottish access rights.

However, when you are enjoying the outdoors, you must follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code which has three main rules – respect the interests of other people, care for the environment and take responsibility for your own actions.

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