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Last Updated: Friday, 2 June 2006, 13:07 GMT 14:07 UK
Tycoon launches court access bid
Kinfauns Castle
The fence at the castle has proven to be controversial
One of Scotland's richest women is seeking a landmark legal ruling to ban ramblers from entering the grounds of her Perthshire estate.

Stagecoach tycoon Ann Gloag has already angered walkers by erecting a fence around the Kinfauns Castle estate.

She has now lodged court papers seeking to become the first private individual in Scotland to exempt her land from right-to-roam legislation.

The Ramblers Association Scotland is fighting the court bid.

Mrs Gloag, who bought the grade A listed Kinfauns Castle a year ago, wants a ruling that all land within the fence be designated out of bounds when the case is heard later this month at Perth Sheriff Court.

The association said that the wooded part of the estate should remain open to the public.

But Mrs Gloag said the castle was now her permanent residence and therefore the legal status of the land surrounding her home had changed and was no longer open to the public.

'Access rights'

The organisation's director Dave Morris, who described Mrs Gloag as a "maverick", said the woodland contained rare trees.

He said: "We are treating the situation very seriously. She has already enclosed the land.

"The fence has a couple of gates in it and it is our position that there should be a public right of access to the wooded area.

"We say that ramblers should be able to open the gate and go into the wooded area of the estate. But the gates are locked and they are planting in front of them to obscure them."

Ann Gloag
Ann Gloag is a permanent resident of Kinfauns Castle

Mr Morris said the association, which has 7,000 members, had no desire to use the garden area surrounding Mrs Gloag's Perthshire mansion.

Mrs Gloag's 7ft-high barbed wire-topped security fence caused controversy when it was erected and the multi-millionaire, who set up Stagecoach with brother Brian Soutar, had to obtain retrospective approval for it from Perth and Kinross Council.

Her court bid, if successful, would effectively ban walkers from her estate.

She "seeks declarator that... the land enclosed by the security fence at Kinfauns Castle is not land in respect of which access rights under the 2003 Act are exercisable."

A spokesperson for Mrs Gloag said: "Even before the castle became a private home, there were no rights of access through the grounds.

"Access to the remainder of the 23-acre estate is not affected and remains as it was when the castle operated as a hotel.

Leisure club plan

"Mrs Gloag's privacy, and that of her family, are guaranteed under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 and the Scottish Outdoor Access Code."

Perth and Kinross Council said it was satisfied that the new fence did not unreasonably restrict public access.

Meanwhile, Mrs Gloag's plan to create a luxury golf course and leisure club at her Highland estate has been put in doubt.

Council officials have recommended that the 20m scheme for the grounds of Beaufort Castle be rejected.

Cautious welcome on right to roam
21 Jan 04 |  Scotland
Multi-millionaire wins land battle
06 Nov 03 |  Scotland
Stagecoach founder becomes OBE
12 Jun 04 |  Scotland

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