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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 March, 2003, 12:27 GMT
Outdoor access code unveiled
Land on Lewis
The code will set out rights of access
Views are being sought on the code which will be at the heart of a new right of access to the Scottish countryside.

The aim of the draft Scottish Outdoor Access Code is to promote responsible behaviour by users and land managers.

The code must be approved before the statutory right of access contained in the Land Reform Act becomes law.

The act was approved by the Scottish Parliament in February and gained Royal Assent the following month.

Revised code

Under the legislation Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) must draw up and consult on the document, which must then win the backing of MSPs.

The consultation process, which will last until the end of June, was launched on Wednesday.

SNH will then analyse the comments received before submitting a revised code to ministers.

The access reforms brought in under this new legislation are an historic achievement for the new democratic process in Scotland
Michael Scott
SNH deputy chairman
The right of statutory access to land and water is likely to come into force early next year.

The access code will be similar to other codes of good practice which are embedded in law, such as the Highway Code and the Disability Discrimination Act.

It will give people statutory access rights to the outdoors - as long as they stick to the responsibilities set out in the code.

It will cover issues such as keeping dogs under control, liability, respecting people's privacy and peace, helping land managers to work safely and caring for the environment.

The code will also cover the extent to which land managers are responsible for helping people to enjoy the outdoors, such as by not padlocking gates or by providing access for cyclists and horse riders.

Responsible attitude

SNH's deputy chairman Michael Scott said: "The access reforms brought in under this new legislation are an historic achievement for the new democratic process in Scotland and are a suitable testimony to the efforts and debate of so many people over the past decade.

"The legislation will open up Scotland's outdoors to people who may never have thought about going for a walk or cycle ride, simply because they weren't sure where they could go.

"However, to make this a success the public and land managers must be part of the process of developing a responsible attitude to access, which will be enshrined in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code."

SNH has also launched a consultation paper on the type of Access Forum required to help implement the new access arrangements.

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