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Park Authority takes on access powers

9th February 2005

The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) becomes the access authority for the whole of the National Park from Wednesday 9 February as the new statutory right of access takes effect, heralded by the launch of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

The CNPA has been preparing to take on this role since the Park was officially opened in September 2003. As the access authority, the CNPA has a duty to uphold the right of outdoor access in the Park, develop a network of core paths and set up a Local Outdoor Access Forum.

Springing from the same land reform agenda that brought us National Parks, the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 gives everyone statutory access rights to most land and inland water. However people only have these rights if they exercise them responsibly by respecting the privacy, safety and livelihoods of others as well as caring for the environment. Equally, land managers have to manage their land and water responsibly in relation to access rights.

The Code is based on three key principles which apply equally to everyone:

  • Respect the interests of other people. Act with courtesy, consideration and awareness. If exercising access rights, make sure you respect the privacy, safety and livelihoods of those working or living in the outdoors and other people enjoying the outdoors. If you are a land manager, respect people’s use of the outdoors and their need for a safe and enjoyable visit.
  • Care for the environment. If exercising access rights, look after the places you visit and leave the land as you find it. If managing the land, help maintain the natural and cultural heritage features that make the outdoors attractive to visit and enjoy.
  • Take responsibility for your own actions. If exercising access rights, remember the outdoors is not risk-free and act with care at all times. If you are a land manager, act with care at all times for people’s safety.

In preparing for this landmark day, the CNPA is in the process of establishing the Cairngorms Local Outdoor Access Forum (LOAF) with recruitment for the panel currently underway. The LOAF, which will advise the CNPA on the new rights of outdoor access, comprises individuals representing land management, recreation and community interests as well as representatives from three agencies including Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland.

Eric Baird, Deputy Convener of the CNPA Board and a Ranger on the Glen Tanar Estate in Aberdeenshire said: “I’m really pleased that the access rights and responsibilities have been made explicit so people can be clear about what they can expect and what is expected of them. Countryside rangers have a particular job to do, working as a bridge between the visitor to the countryside and the land manager but it is up to all of us to make this work.”

Rothiemurchus Ranger and CNPA Board Member Willie McKenna added: “People in Scotland have always enjoyed access to the great outdoors but the introduction of the new right of access and the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, makes it official! Most of what is outlined in The Code is good common sense -respecting others, acting responsibly and caring for the environment but now people have this practical guide to help them make informed decisions about what is best to do in everyday situations.”

Kristin Scott, Senior Access Officer at the CNPA said: ” We have a small team the Park Authority dedicated to outdoor access, and with the establishment of the Local Outdoor Access Forum near completion, we look forward to the many challenges ahead as the access authority for the Cairngorms National Park.”

For more information on The Code visit the website: or contact the CNPA on tel: 01479 873535.