The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 established statutory rights of responsible access to land and inland water for:
- outdoor recreation
- crossing land
- some educational and commercial purposes.
These are known as Scottish access rights.
The Scottish Outdoor Access Code gives detailed guidance on the responsibilities of those exercising access rights and of those managing land and water. The Act sets out where and when access rights apply and how land should be managed with regard to access. The Code defines how access rights should be exercised. The three principles for responsible access apply to both the public and land managers:
- Respect the interests of other people: be considerate, respect privacy and livelihoods, and the needs of those enjoying the outdoors.
- Care for the environment: Look after the places you visit and enjoy. Care for wildlife and historic sites.
- Take responsibility for your own actions: The outdoors cannot be made risk-free for people exercising access rights; land managers should act with care for people's safety.
Full details of Scottish access rights can be found on the Scottish Outdoor Access Code website. Much existing legislation is still relevant and complements the Land Reform Scotland Act and the Code. This is explained in A Brief Guide to Laws relevant to Outdoor Access in Scotland.
The national access forum
Scottish Natural Heritage has established a National Access Forum(NAF) to advise on national issues linked to Scottish access rights. The Forum complements the work of local access forums, which advise on and help to resolve local access issues. The NAF aims to be open and participatory and welcomes contributions from all bodies with an interest in access rights.
Further information can be found on the National Access Forum web pages here.