Agendas, reports and minutes

Ross and Cromarty Local Access Forum

Date: Friday, 22 June 2018

Minutes: Read the Minutes

Minute of Meeting of the Ross and Cromarty Local Access Forum held in the Chamber, Council Offices, High Street, Dingwall on Friday 22 June 2018 at 2.00 pm


Mr R Chalmers, Mr N Chisholm, Mr T Forrest, J MacKenzie and Mr H Munro.

In Attendance:

Mr P Waite, Access and Long Distance Route Manager, Development and Infrastructure Service
Mrs A MacArthur, Administrative Assistant, Chief Executive’s Office

Mr R Forrest in the Chair

1.  Apologies for Absence

Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Mr G Adam.

2.  Confirmation of Minutes

There had been submitted for confirmation as a correct record the minutes of meeting of the Ross and Cromarty Local Access Forum held on 29 November 2017. 

Following amendment at Item 4 ii at the end of the first paragraph to read “Several attempts had been made to reach an agreement including writing to the land owner, asking to meet, offering payment towards fences not land and seeking advice to consider a path order” the minutes were APPROVED.

3.  Highland LAF structure and membership review

Following a review by the Director of Development and Infrastructure on either the status quo or an amalgamation of fora in Highland, the status quo for the fora had been accepted and the Ross and Cromarty Local Access Forum (RCLAF) would remain as it was. 

There were currently two vacant posts within the RCLAF, one for a Land Manager and one for a Disability Access representative.  The closing date for applications for the Land Manager had been the 25 June, but due to some confusion over dates, leeway would be given to the 29 June if any arrived up to that date.  Should more than one application be received a report would be put to the Ross and Cromarty Committee for Councillors to appoint one Land Manager to the RCLAF.  If only one application was received a report would still go to the Ross and Cromarty Committee to approve the appointment. 

There were currently two Councillors on the RCLAF and their input was valued by the forum. 

The Chair stated that as he had been in post as the Chair for four years, as an Access Taker, he would be happy for someone from the community groups to take over the role.  If anyone was interested in putting their name forward they should do so and any new appointment would be agreed at the next meeting of the Access Forum. 

Thereafter, the position was NOTED.

4.  The Highland Core Path Plan Review – West Highlands and Islands

The Access and Long Distance Route Manager provided the following updates to the Highland Core Path Plan Review:

  1. some sections of the plan had now been completed;
  2. consultations with community groups on the extended area of the West Highlands and Islands Core Path Plan to cover Strathpeffer and Strathconon was underway;
  3. the Lochaber Core Path Plan was lagging behind the other plans as they had had changes to their Access Officers and this was holding up the process; and
  4. proposed new core paths had been outlined in the plan.

A presentation was shown outlining the proposed extension to the Core Path Plan to cover the Strathpeffer and Strathconon area.  The difference between the Ward boundary and Community Councils boundaries were outlined for a small piece of Strathpeffer and it had been decided to go with the Community Council boundary rather than the ward boundary.

The Access and Long Distance Route Manager then outlined possible new core paths likely to go forward:

  • the suggested paths in Stathconon ie Glenorrin to Inverchoran; Scardroy to Glencarron, and one parallel to the road in Strathcarron from Bridgend to Inverchoran;
  • in relation to the suggested paths in Strathconon the circular short route originally objected to and upheld by the reporter would be beneficial and may now be possible as most of the forestry work had been completed;
  • another option from Bridgend to Inverchoran and cutting back to Milton through the Estate Office;
  • circular route at Milton;
  • Strathpeffer to Dingwall along the old railway line (Peffery Way);
  • one over the Torrachilty Dam which would be the only path to connect Contin to Strathconon;
  • completion of the circuit at Contin Island;
  • the existing right of way between Craigdarroch and Loch Achilty;
  • larger ones through the forest linking Contin to the Heights of Strathpeffer;
  • in relation to Peffery Way it could be put forward as a candidate for a core path, options were to put forward as a core path through to Dingwall but the problem was that it had not yet been constructed, instead an existing track at Knockbain Farm up to their cattle shed and already signposted as such would be a better interim measure until the flatter path had been constructed. 

It was AGREED to support the above listed possible core paths to be included where possible in the West Highlands and Islands Core Path Plan.  As there was an intensive network of core paths already, priority should be given to those that linked up.

5.  Access Issues Updates     

i.  Rua Reidh, Gairloch

The Access and Long Distance Route Manager provided an update on Rua Reidh during which he outlined the ongoing access issues and attempts by the accommodation owner to prevent people walking and driving down the road. 

He presented a map which showed the areas of ownership.

The community had proposed another parking area with a track leading to it but the owners did not want this as a parking area. 

A car was now parked across the road to prevent access.  This road was owned by the Estate and the lighthouse accommodation owners had been asked to move the car.  They had moved the car for two weeks but the car had now returned.   

A court case in Loch Lomond in March had found for the National Park against the owner.  This court case sets a precedent and virtually overturns the Tuley outcome.   The owners intention or motive was irrelevant it was the effect of the action rather than the intention of the action.    

A report is in process and Counsel’s opinion will be sought on Section 28 the Determination of Access Rights rather than for Section 13 or 14 the obstruction elements. 

Thereafter, the position was NOTED.

ii.  Chalet 5, Mellon Udrigle

The Access and Long Distance Route Manager provided an update on this with a presentation to show the area.  The RCLAF had last looked at this site in 2013. 

The chalet had been updated and revamped, the dyke had been derelict but had now been reinstated.  The fank had a gap which was now being used as a passageway through the wall, and people were still walking alongside the chalet.  Sheep had been causing problems and damage to the chalet decking.  The owners accept the access but need a solution to the damage caused by the sheep.  A gate through the wall was not acceptable as that part of the route led to a bog which was not appropriate. 

The crofter was sympathetic to the situation.  He had suggested a possible solution by fencing off part of the chalet but the detail was as yet unclear. 

Any change to the Right of Way would have to be funded by the person proposing the change. 

The Access and Long Distance Route Manager outlined possible solutions to the access issue.  This was a right of way between Mellon Udrigle and Udrigle used by many locals.  The landowner was prepared to compromise and fund any change to the right of way, a solution just had to be found. 

Thereafter, the position was NOTED.

iii. Milnain Croft

The Access and Long Distance Route Manager provided an update on the access between the croft and two fields.  There had been several confrontations with the crofter and pedestrians, and one video of a confrontation between the landowner and two people taking access was shown.  A meeting had been arranged with the landowner and his son for the following week and Mr H Munro agreed to attend with the Access and Long Distance Route Manager. 

Thereafter, it was AGREED that Mr H Munro and the Access and Long Distance Route Manger would meet with the landowner and his son. 

6.  Exemption from Access Rights, S11 Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 – Black Isle Show

The Access and Long Distance Route Manager advised that this was the annual request for exemption from access rights over the area for the Black Isle Show.  There were no issues and no core paths affected in this area.

Thereafter, it was AGREED to allow Exemption from Access Rights in terms of Section 11 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.

7.  National Access Forum Matters

There had been circulated for information the draft minutes of meeting of the National Access Forum held on 27 September 2017 which were NOTED.

8.  Any Other Business

Wild Camping on grounds near Aviemore – Mr H Munro had come across an area in his wife’s ownership where a camp had been set up.  The camp site had been built from trees, presumably trees that had fallen as opposed to people having felled trees for the purpose of the shelter and photos of the camp site were shown to the forum.  The landowner had contacted the Police but had found the police not to be very helpful although he had been informed that he could dismantle but not remove goods.  He had then contacted the CNP Access Officer who had decided not to get involved as the landowner had spoken to the boys involved and they had cleared the area. 

Drones - Drone usage was covered by the Civil Aviation Code.  The legislation was lagging behind the drone usage which could be intrusive.  Licensing for drones would be coming into force soon with non-motorised ie paragliding also incorporated. 

Scottish Upland Path Audit - Walking the Talk Survey by SNH - The survey organisers had asked the public to help with the audits of paths in their areas.  Fyrish had been done. 

Delny Level Crossing - The Delny Level Crossing would be dealt with by Network Rail.  It was for Network Rail and the Roads Authority to stop up the road and they would have to post signs for, and specifically mention, alternative pedestrian access and do the relevant risk assessments.  

Scotsburn – the Forestry Commission had put up new signs advising members of the public on ways to deal with the meeting of Capercaillies in this area.  Mr Forrest was advised that any issues could be raised directly with the Forestry Commission themselves.  Capercaillies were a protected species. 

Biosphere Reserve – this was a new project looking at linking communities through old kirk routes and rights of Way.

Smelter Pier – 3 bridges with a large ditch and no working path now.

Fairburn Estate – the Chair and the Access and Long Distance Route Manager had met with Fairburn Estate in 2016 as the gates had been locked.  This had been resolved but the gates had now been locked again.  Everything that had been agreed in 2016 had not been undertaken.  A reminder had been sent but no response had yet been received.

9.  Date of Next Meeting

It was NOTED that the next meeting would be held in November and a doodle poll would be undertaken nearer the time. 

The meeting finished at 4.35 pm.