Local Authorities have a number of responsibilities under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. They are seen as the ‘guardians’ of the new right of access and the Act gives new duties and powers, including a duty to “assert, protect and keep open and free from obstruction or encroachment any route, waterway or other means by which access rights may reasonably be exercised”.
Local Authorities have a duty to prepare a Core Path Plan within three years of the start of the Act. Core paths may include rights of way and other paths or routes to give the public reasonable access across land and the public will be consulted with and given notice of the plan.
The Act also requires the Local Authority to establish a Local Access Forum. These Forums’ functions are to advise the local authority on access issues, rights of way and the drawing up and adoption of the Core Path Plan. Forum members must represent different user groups, such as landowners, walkers, horseriders and cyclists.
Furthermore, local authorities, along with SNH, have a duty to publicise the Code and in the case of prohibition signs, obstructions etc, local authorities have the power to remove or make safe such notices. Landowners must not prevent or deter access by erecting signs, notices or fences.
Finally, local authorities have the power to exempt land from access rights. Applications can be submitted to exempt land for up to five days for the purpose of holding agricultural shows etc for which entry is charged. Land may also be exempt for between six days and two years but for this applications must be sent to Ministers for approval.