Scotland's landowners have given a wary welcome to plans underpinning the right to roam north of the border.
Ramblers welcome the countryside code
The right was enshrined in land reform legislation passed last year by the
A proposed 66-page access code on the "right of responsible access" was submitted to ministers by Scottish Natural Heritage.
The code will have to be approved by parliament before the new public right
of access takes effect.
Scottish Natural Heritage said the proposals took account of views submitted
during a public consultation, and struck a fair balance.
But John Don, convener of the Scottish Landowners' Federation, said: "While
we welcome the code in general terms, there remain a number of areas where we think fine tuning is required."
And he said landowners also had concerns that the code had the potential to cause damage to land by encouraging people to use unsown "tramline" areas between rows of crops.
Mr Don added: "Tramlines do not provide a useful recreational purpose, and a greater focus on paths and tracks and adequate funding would provide better opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors.
"Emphasis also needs to be given to the conservation importance of field
"We welcome the emphasis which the code places on people taking responsibility for their own actions, and that the countryside is not
"This is important as it can stem the move towards a culture of litigation,
an aspect which has made some land managers nervous in encouraging access to their land."
Scottish Natural Heritage said the draft code reflected changes suggested in
the consultation process.
These included clearer guidance to dog owners about how to act responsibly,
more advice on respecting the privacy of people living in the countryside, and
greater emphasis on the importance of following paths close to houses and in
SNH director of strategy Andrew Bachell said: "For the first time, the new
legislation will introduce formal access rights, accompanied by responsibilities set out in the code for both land managers and the public using the land.
"The proposed code reflects what people told us, and particularly focuses on
the key messages of the need to respect the interests of others, take care of
the environment, and take responsibility for your own actions."
However, the National Farmers Union Scotland said some aspects of the proposed code should be rewritten.
It is unhappy about provisions for walking on vehicle tracks through fields - believing there is potential for crop damage.
And it believes the code has not tackled the difficulties of making access for cyclists and horse riders compatible with the safety of others such as walkers.
Deputy environment minister Allan Wilson said he hoped the access rights could be brought into effect later this year.
He said: "Scottish Natural Heritage has consulted widely on their proposals and while I understand that some people may still have concerns, I hope we can work together to ensure that the new arrangements work in the best interests of the environment."