I have been extremely lucky that over the years I have been blessed on the whole with a great relationship with the huge Estates that dominate Scotland and its Wild places. In the RAF Mountain Rescue we had to gain permission every weekend to train on the hills that each Estate owned and got to know some of Scotland’s finest keepers and their families all over this incredible country. I have just written about two huge walks across Scotland where we regularly stayed with the keepers on our travels and their hospitality was legendary as was their kindness. At times it was a definite “doff the hat mentality” to some of the Lairds but being in the military it had to be done, the class system was still alive and well. I had a few heated discussions with the owners, Lairds and one with Royalty that these were not their mountains, they belonged to the people and they was only there to safeguard them for future generations. This did not go down well at the time with my bosses in the RAF but I was always a free spirit that way. How did I last 37 years in the military with my attitude a question I am always asked? Nowadays we have great access in Scotland, the Freedom to roam that is a great credit to all those who worked for it over the years and the rest of the UK can only imagine what we have achieved as a small nation and are well behind us in Access rights and law. There has been a low-key approach recently to land access but I see on my travels various landowners who are pushing their rights to the wall and making access difficulty. A few think that this is their land for their special and sole use. I respect everyone’s right to privacy but also that the land is for everyone to enjoy and I am so glad that Scotland government in all parties are helping this to remain so. At these times where money rules everything it right to keep vigilant and ensure the great work of access for all remains the right of our grandchildren. Lets keep a watchful eye on the future on Land Access?
From the BBC website “The government’s plans for a Land Reform Bill would allow ministers to intervene “where the scale of land ownership or the conduct of a landlord is acting as a barrier to sustainable development”.
Ms Sturgeon said the ending of rates exemptions for shooting and deer stalking estates, “put in place by the Tories in 1994 to protect the interests of major landowners”, would pay for an increase in the fund which supports community land ownership from £3m to £10m a year.
“Scotland’s land must be an asset that benefits the many, not the few,” said Ms Sturgeon.
However David Johnstone, chairman of Scottish Land and Estates, which speaks for private landowners, said they were already working hard to back Scottish government aims, like as renewable energy, agriculture, housing and tourism.
He said: “Sporting estates are too readily singled out in a negative light, when in fact they are businesses that make a key contribution to rural tourism, local employment and the environment.”