Scottish Access Rights were introduced, via Part 1 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, in early 2005. The legislation established a statutory right of access to the outdoors in Scotland. The right is a conditional one and therefore exists provided the person exercising that right behaves in a way which is considered responsible. It also established a reciprocal obligation placed on land managers which requires them to behaviour in a responsible manner in terms of enabling outdoor access rights to be exercised. It was acknowledged when this piece of legislation was introduced that an education and awareness-raising campaign would be required to ensure both access-takers and land managers understood the balance between rights and responsibilities.
The official responsibility for publicising the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, which provides guidance on access rights and responsibilities, lies with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the 34 access authorities in Scotland (32 local authorities, plus the 2 national park authorities). Much has already been achieved in this respect, and in promoting what is meant by responsible access, but it is also recognized as an ongoing task which has no defined end point, and which a great many organizations and individuals need to provide support with to be truly successful.
One such way that landowners can help is to include information on Scottish Access Rights and Responsibilities into school farm or estate visits. The information below is designed to provide ideas for how this might be achieved, and to give an easy reference point for the variety of materials that are available to assist.