BHS Scotland held a well-attended equestrian access conference in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park on the last day of October giving a snap shot of where equestrian access in Scotland currently is - in terms of the 15 year old access legislation. The conference was chaired by Euan McIlwraith from BBC Scotland.
The Land Reform (Scotland) 2003 Act gave horse riders the same rights of responsible access as walkers, cyclists, canoeists, non-motorised buggy users, pram pushers, hang gliders and cavers (not that we want to ride below ground or fly in the air!) yet sometimes in Scotland equestrians are unable to use their rights because of discrimination which leads of locked gates, off putting signage and other obstacles.
The keynote speech was delivered by Roseanna Cunningham, MSP and Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform and she said: “Scotlands world leading right of responsible access is the envy of the world and it is so important that the principles of responsible access are instilled in newer generations.”
Education in responsible access is a preoccupation of the BHS in Scotland. The conference was also used to examine the recent Drumlean judgement and its significance in terms of caseload was the subject of much discussion.
Other presentations included; ‘Multi-use access and Scotland’s Great Trails’: Vyv Wood-Gee, Countryside Consultant, ‘Developing Falkirk’s Access Network - in the Hoof Prints of the Kelpies’: Angus Duncan, Outdoor Access Team Leader Falkirk Council Challenging Obstructed Access - Drumlean Case Study: Kenny Auld, LLTNPA. ‘Legal Implications of Drumlean and Other Cases’: David Blair, Anderson Strathern. ‘Expectations vs Reality - Access Officers’ Perspective’: Richard Barron Operations Director- Scottish Rights of Way and Access Society (ScotWays) ’The Equestrian Perspective’: Helene Mauchlen, BHS and ‘Responsibility and Liability’ - The Legal Perspective: Catherine Macdonald, Anderson Strathern.
The overall conclusion from the event was that; thanks to The BHS horse riders do enjoy the same rights of responsible access as others, how full this right is remains very regional – it depends where you live. And that that Scotland’s legislation is excellent and should work for horse riders but as it is still relatively new we all have to continue to work in partnership with other stakeholders and with exemplary responsibility to “Make the best even better” and set the example for other access takers.