The complexities of legislation, common law, and the sensitivity of the access issue mean that people working in the field of access need a unique range of skills. They need to be able to remain objective during rights of way disputes, to negotiate skillfully
with landowners, the public and relevant authorities, to provide appropriate public access which caters for disabled people, water sports, cyclists and horse riders as well as walkers, to counter vandalism and repair damage, improve and signpost routes, maintain records, provide information, manage contracts and volunteers, balance budgets and more.
The Scottish Countryside Access Network was formed by Rights of Way Officers, Countryside Project Officers, Countryside Rangers, Countryside Planners, Access Officers and others in 1995 to discuss some of the common issues and recognise good practice. In May 2012 the organisation was renamed the Scottish Outdoor Access Network (SOAN).
SOAN aims to offer support in a variety of ways:
- Training – in all areas of outdoor access work through workshops and conferences;
- Information – exploring the main issues in the outdoor access field and establishing best practice guidance, publication of case studies, fact-sheets and Conference Reports
- News – through posts on this site, to keep you up to date with the developments in the access field
- Networking – The chance to meet other people working in this field to exchange ideas and information.
And what can you offer SOAN? Your individual experiences of Outdoor Access in Scotland are a valuable resource, from which others can benefit. You may hold the key to someone else’s problem. Your membership makes SOAN more representative of the people working to help improve the system. Your support can make a difference!