/ Ledgowan Estate - "Get Off My Land"

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Douglas Griffin - on 09 Oct 2013
Interesting post on Andy Wightman's blog:
http://www.andywightman.com/?p=3175

Must admit, if I were going walking at this time of year I'd always try to check in advance to see whether there were any restrictions on access. But from their reported conduct (apparently not an isolated incident, either), it looks like the new landowners have a bit to learn about land access rights and responsibilities in Scotland too:
http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/outdoors-responsibly/access-code-and-advice/scottish-hills/
http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/A973209.pdf
i.e. estates are supposed to advise when and where stalking is taking place.

The very conspicuous bulldozed track at Ledgowan has been mentioned on here before, e.g.:
http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=523116&v=1#x7048808
"Disturbing the environment by walking on it", indeed...
Fat Bumbly2 - on 09 Oct 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin: They have the stalking excuse now, but have form at other times like putting a locked gate across an adopted road.

They have littered the surroundings with mission statement signs - more like thinly disguised keep out signs, obviously aware of the law.
http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3216280
Here they are not disturbing the environment, and have not disturbed it for many km.
http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3512722
gavmac - on 09 Oct 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin: That bulldozed track really gets to me every time I head through Achnasheen. No surprise really then to hear them behaving like that. Is some form of protest/group walk an idea? I dont know, but I sure want to do something. Its a pretty sad state of affairs really.
Douglas Griffin - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Fat Bumbly2 and gavmac:

That second photo on geograph is especially grim. Got to wonder how they get planning permission for something like this.
MG - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin: In 25 years walking and climbing and doing fieldwork in Scoltand I have never once had the slightest problem with access or owners - generally the opposite, some friendly discussions with owners, keepers etc. Andy Wightman really is very unlucky into bumping these obnoxious landowners on a monthly basis. Or maybe it isn't luck...

MG - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to MG: That said, the track looks horrendous.
Douglas Griffin - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to MG:

> Andy Wightman really is very unlucky into bumping these obnoxious landowners on a monthly basis. Or maybe it isn't luck...

I think you need to read the article.

tony on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin:
> (In reply to Fat Bumbly2 and gavmac)
>
> That second photo on geograph is especially grim. Got to wonder how they get planning permission for something like this.

Isn't part of the problem that planning permission isn't needed for this kind of 'development'? I'm sure there's been a bit of a stooshie in the last few years with proposed new planning legislation being opposed by landowners precisely because of this kind of thing.
MG - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin: I did, it's like most of his articles. "Went for walk, Was shouted at, Explained my rights". At face value clearly wrong. However, given the frequecy this seems to happen to him (and the rarity it happens to others), and his well-known campainging and political views, I think large pinches of salt are needed.
In reply to Douglas Griffin: Landowners don't need planning permission to bulldoze private roads more or less at will. A huge loophole in Scotland's planning laws but not one the current govt seem all that keen to address.
In reply to tony: Yes, it's an ongoing row. See here for a start: http://www.ukhillwalking.com/news/item.php?id=68103 and here: http://www.ukhillwalking.com/news/item.php?id=67679 MCofS and others doing good work to press the issue, but so far little progress thanks to the government and the landowning lobby
Douglas Griffin - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to MG:

> I did, it's like most of his articles. "Went for walk, Was shouted at, Explained my rights". At face value clearly wrong. However, given the frequecy this seems to happen to him (and the rarity it happens to others), and his well-known campainging and political views, I think large pinches of salt are needed.

You did? Really? And you still failed to notice that Andy Wightman wasn't involved in the incident, and apart from the short introductory paragraph, didn't write the article either?
MG - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin:
> (In reply to MG)
>
> [...]
>
> You did? Really?

Fair point!
Douglas Griffin - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com and tony:

Thanks. That's depressing.
Douglas Griffin - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to gavmac:

> Is some form of protest/group walk an idea? I dont know, but I sure want to do something.

https://twitter.com/CameronMcNeish/status/388216367834357760
TOS on 10 Oct 2013 - 195.99.141.98 [424ob.scansafe.net]
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Douglas Griffin) Andy Wightman really is very unlucky into bumping these obnoxious landowners on a monthly basis. Or maybe it isn't luck...

Whilst I've never had problems with land owners trying to chase me off their land, I have seen quite a few restricted access type signs in the highlands.

Some of these signs have been worded a bit differently, but still conveying the same 'keep out' message. Other signs have been as blatant as "Private - Keep Out".
On one occasion where I was miles from anywhere and walking on my own, I turned back due to one of these signs. Yeah, I knew legally I could walk there, but the idea of a confrontation with estate workers miles from anywhere and no witnesses wasn't my idea of a good time.

MG - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to TOS: I suspect some of these signs pre-date access laws. But, yes, they can be intimidating and shouldn't be there.
TOS on 10 Oct 2013 - 195.99.141.98 [424ob.scansafe.net]
In reply to MG:

These signs looked quite new, or at the very least, regularly maintained.

Anyway, the point I was trying make is that there are landowners out there who think access laws in Scotland don't apply to them.
It's also worth mentioning that as the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 is now a decade old, ignorance of the law isn't really an excuse.

The more switched-on land owners who are aware of the law but still want people off their land just adopt tactics that use loopholes that can be exploited - anyone remember the Limekilns 'batbox' issue not so long ago?
Fat Bumbly2 - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to MG: Came across a brand new one last week near Selkirk. Worth ignoring as it was on an old hill track of some beauty. Disgusting piece of litter all the same and I sympathise with anyone feeling worried by it.

If you feel intimidated, contact the access committee of the relevant council.

Sadly one of the forums has degenerated into a near criminal threatfest by keyboard warriors rendering any mass visit rather unwise.
dmhigg - on 10 Oct 2013
In reply to Fat Bumbly2: I Can't comment on the Ledgowan estate, but I notice the owner also has the Rossie Ochil estate.....where a bloke on a quad bike roared up to me and told me that my cycling on his new track was disturbing the birds. He'd had to travel about 3 miles to tell me that.
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drmarten on 10 Oct 2013
While on the whole I believe the Right to Roam is still very much the practice in Scotland there are a few estates where some kind of Victorian attitude is still holding sway. I've never been stopped from accessing the hills and I'm out any day of the week throughout the year including stalking season. This estates attitude stinks (as does the track up the hill behind the hotel, all too visible when approaching Achnasheen) and bullies want to be careful, next time it may be a less passive, volatile person they decide to abuse - reports to the police of aggressive behaviour from owners of shotgun licences don't go down too well either.
The estate in Glen Lyon is another where they try to stop or hinder hillwalkers regularly, I despair that the particular landowner is on the Perth & Kinross Access Group!
Again I'd stress these (to me) are isolated cases but one is too many.
Douglas Griffin - on 10 Oct 2013
Update on the scale of the environmental vandalism being carried out by the Ledgowan Estate:
http://www.andywightman.com/?p=3185
Fat Bumbly2 - on 11 Oct 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin:
And from the goml's spiritual home - Perthshire. (Glen Almond)

http://www.trailscotland.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=7163&start=10

Post at the bottom.

If that is what they think bikes would do on their motorway network (anyone who has been up there will "marvel" at the number of roads) one can only guess what they think about walking. It is a good ski area too.

These people still think that they can close the hill for most of the year. We were not having it pre 2003 and sure as the hot place we are not having it now.
malk - on 11 Oct 2013
In reply to Fat Bumbly2: such respect for plovers cannot be ignored..
biped - on 13 Oct 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin:

The latest from Andy. I can vouch for much of what is in this piece.

http://www.andywightman.com/?p=3207
John Rushby - on 13 Oct 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin:

Given the reach around the Scottish government gave Donald Fart, I can't imagine this being high on their agenda. It seems such a crying shame that an administration that can be so far sighted to grant full freedom to roam, can be so impotent and emasculated.

biped - on 13 Oct 2013
In reply to John Rushby:

Indeed. If I were a mad, arrogant landowner with a Louis XVI fixation I'd be very encouraged at the full rusty trombone given to Tronald Dump by the Shrek cabal.
Martin W on 14 Oct 2013
In reply to biped: "It is now confirmed that the road was built for agricultural activities. ... Simpsonís own website implies it is for trout and salmon fishing and wildlife safaris."

Do field sports and tourism count as agriculture?
rabthecairnterrier - on 14 Oct 2013
In reply to John Rushby: The Land Reform Act was not enacted under the present SNP government but by the previous administration. Since coming to power the SNP seem to have completely lost their previous enthusiasm for further land reform. Their well-documented indulgence of Mr Trump has come back to bite them on the bum - as wiser minds told them it always would - an experience they seem to have learned nothing from.

They also ignored all pleas to include hill tracks in the planning system and if Mr Simpson at Achnasheen wants to build a windfarm they will - as we all know - bend over backwards to accommodate him.

On a slightly more positive note I can confirm from personal knowledge that the Local Access Forum for Ross & Cromarty is keeping a very close eye on Ledgowan estate. The Highland Council has already taken legal action on one issue and it's likely further action will follow.
johncoxmysteriously - on 14 Oct 2013
In reply to Martin W:
> (In reply to biped) "It is now confirmed that the road was built for agricultural activities. ... Simpsonís own website implies it is for trout and salmon fishing and wildlife safaris."
>
> Do field sports and tourism count as agriculture?

No. That's the point. Simpson claims it's built for agriculture. The suggestion is that that's actually a lie. However the local powers that be lack the cojones to require reinstatement.

jcm
Milesy - on 14 Oct 2013
It is very interesting that the permission request for the turbine planning suggests now that no new infrastructure will be required on the hill/land so environmental impact will be minimal.... wow isn't that just convenient :)

that nice track for "agricultural purposes" is massive and definately caters for vehicles bigger than a tracktor/landrover.... maybe turbing carrying/installing equipment/vehicles!

This is truly amazing that people can get around the law in such a way! The utter definition of loop hole.
Martin W on 14 Oct 2013
In reply to Milesy: It's similar to the Vixen Tor case, where the landowner illegally improved the land (and was successfully prosecuted for doing so)...and was subsequently allowed to argue that it shouldn't be open access land because it was semi-improved pasture rather than open moorland.

https://www.thebmc.co.uk/dismay-as-vixen-tor-judgement-undermines-crow-act

It's good to see that Mr Simpson seems to be quick to learn what's expected of a responsible landowner from such a fine, upstanding pillar of the community as Ms Alford.
biped - on 14 Oct 2013
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:
> (In reply to Martin W)
> [...]
>
> However the local powers that be lack the cojones to require reinstatement.
>

This is precisely the issue. In my own work I frequently encounter situations where contractors (under instruction, tacit or otherwise) breach planning consents and more often than not the reaction is *Oh well what's done is done' and that's it. It varies across regions but many contractors and developers know what they can and can't get away with and where.

Clearly in some cases there is an element of interdepartmental nobbling going on. (qv: D. Trump, Menie, Salmond)
Cuthbert on 14 Oct 2013
In reply to biped:

Is that what you think happened with Trump? I think it just a bad decision and the police came out worst.
biped - on 14 Oct 2013
In reply to Saor Alba:

I think Salmond calling in the application (the initial rejection of which is pretty routine) counts, in a broad sense, as interdepartmental nobbling. I agree that the police came out smelling of arse, but they weren't alone, nor were they the biggest fish by a long way.
ScraggyGoat on 14 Oct 2013
In reply to rabthecairnterrier:
Couldn't have written that better myself. As for Trump being a one off planning mistake, my arse! The SNPs environmental credentials are all political bluster. To my mind at least with the implicit mandate of a yes vote in the referendum they will sell Scotland's natural heritage to all and sundry.......
Cuthbert on 14 Oct 2013
In reply to ScraggyGoat:

They don't own it to sell. It's nothing to do with independence. If it was the expected no vote next year should stop all this......

More seriously though, you make a good point. Years before the government, planners and public hear about windfarm application the landowners and developers are working it all out.

We hear almost nothing about landowners in this debate when it is actually them profiting and promoting these schemes.

As with most things, landownership is central to this and other matters relating to the land.

I think the reason they get away with it (the landowners) is that landownership is a complex issue and it's much easier to blame some government. Long after any government goes the land owners will still be there degrading the land for their own uses whilst avoiding tax and employing almost nobody.

Clint86 - on 14 Oct 2013
In reply to Saor Alba: We need to club together to buy up some estates....
Cuthbert on 14 Oct 2013
In reply to Clint86:

I don't actually think that would actually sort the issueand and just create more absentee landlords.

The issue, I think, is that effectively anyone with enough money can buy massive areas of land, lay waste to the place and at the same offset this destruction against tax and personally gain. This situation has existed long before the snp got in power for many hundreds of years. In fact to blame it on them for doing little is again to avoid the real issue of landownerism.
Clint86 - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to Saor Alba: Thanks for info. Just a thought!
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Cuthbert on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to Clint86:

It's a good thought too but we already have the JMT, NTS and so on and they are in real danger of becoming absentee landlords. That in itself isn't a problem leaving aside the principle of it but it does detach the owner from the effects of their actions which never leads to good situations.

I think community ownership has to be the way but with support from organisations such as SNH etc.

The problem is that many of the vast sporting estates have no one living on them or if they do they are economically dependent on the landowner.

I therefore propose that any Scottish government passes legislation to requires large estate owners to prepare a biodiversity plan and community plan which is backed up with some kind of penalties. Ideally those penalties would come in the form of reduced tax breaks but devolution prevents any Scottish government having this power and Westminster sure as hell isn't going to do that as it would mean affecting the cosy establishment that keeps them going.
Cuthbert on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin:

From the deer stalking free areas post>>>

I find it quite frankly astonishing that the following statement is not challenged from, in this case, Glen Dessary Estate:

"Management of the deer population through stalking is essential. The cull maintains the health of the deer stock and prevents environmental damage through overgrazing. Stalking and venison production are the main source of employment and income for this local Highland community."
MG - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to Saor Alba: Which bit are you disputing. I would replace "prevents" with "reduces", and " the main" with "a". After that it's not unreasonable is it?
Milesy - on 15 Oct 2013
The income thing I can't argue with but I don't know the figures. The environmental thing though is bollocks because the deer stocks are kept artificially high by the estates for the stalking so that is a red herri.. erm deer?
PeterM - on 15 Oct 2013

I think the land ownership thing is a bit of a red herring too.I think there really needs to be robust legislation in place to protect the land. Community owned land can also blooter shit-ugly tracks across the land, in this case for a single wind turbine. https://www.facebook.com/GalsonEstateTrust
ScraggyGoat on 15 Oct 2013
I think unusually Soar Alba and I are on the same page:

prevents environmental damage - its already damaged. Stocks are kept so artificailly high that the estate has to feed the deer during winter.

Stalking and venison are the only sources of employment becuase the estate doesn't foster any other economic activity, and the actual numbers are very small. If we are talking about the wider community outwith of the Glen, then tourism, forestry, farming and the service sector all employ far more.

Community - there is no community as such, just a few 'tied' families becuase the original community were 'cleared' by the estates forebears many years ago, and the estates current management has no interest in re-population.

Though we will disagree as to whether the SNP has the will to do anything about it......
Jim C - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to Saor Alba:
> (In reply to Clint86)
>
> >
> I think community ownership has to be the way but with support from organisations such as SNH etc.
>
Just back from a cracking weekend in Knoydart, and the community ownership thing seems to work very well there, I would have thought a good model for others.

I like the way that, due to the remoteness, residents leave the visitors centre open at night , and have a safe in it-with the key in the door.
(same as all their vehicles you come across, doors open, keys in ignition )

http://www.knoydart-foundation.com/
MG - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to Jim C:

> (same as all their vehicles you come across, doors open, keys in ignition )


Risky - you would never find them if someone drove off, would you!?
Cuthbert on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to MG:

Here is my issue:

"Management of the deer population through stalking is essential"

Yes that is correct.

"The cull maintains the health of the deer stock..." No this is untrue. Many, most, deer in Scotland are in a poor state due to poor feeding, a population above the carrying capacity of the land and very little shelter. Deer taken from Scotland were bred in NZ and showed an increase in size quite quickly.

".,,,and prevents environmental damage through overgrazing."

This is so far from the truth that it either displays a total lack of realism or a total disregard for others' opinions.

Much of the Highlands is an ecological slum with low biodiversity, very few trees, massive over grazing and high run off due to poor soils. Sporting estates promote this by maintaining high deer numbers through winter feeding and never culling enough. This way they always have a reason to cull as there are always too many.

Even the slightest common sense and traveling around the Highlands shows that trees grow where deer can't get to such as islands and fenced exclosures. The rest is a barren wasteland.


"Stalking and venison production are the main source of employment and income for this local Highland community."

There are no communities in many of these areas. In the case of Glen Dessary or Glen Pean there are no schools, shops, houses, services, plots to build a house and so on due to the strangle hold that these estates hold on the land and anyone wanting to use it.

They are bad for communities, the environment, the economy and life in general. Stalking is not the problem. Management which maintains high deer numbers and total control over the economy is the problem.
In reply to MG: You wouldn't get far from Inverie in a stolen vehicle. Unless it was a boat or helicopter
Slugain Howff - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to Saor Alba:

Very well said.
MG - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com: Yes, my point!
MG - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to Saor Alba: But all that gets *even* worse with no culling. My only query would be over whether winter feeding etc offsets the culling that takes places. I'm not saying the situation is good, just the notice is not actually wrong (after a couple of small changes).
johncoxmysteriously - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to MG:

Well, presumably winter feeding offsets exactly the adjustment to natural levels through starvation that would otherwise occur, yes? Assuming they never cull down to below 'natural' levels (as in 'natural' levels once we've eliminated all the predators, obviously), then the winter feeding must at least offset the culling.

jcm
In reply to MG: Sorry, slow
Cuthbert on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to MG:

True. I am not anti-culling in any way. I fully support a massive cull to reduce the numbers by at least 50%. We need to almost wipe out deer in some areas.

Check out the book The Ancient Pinewoods of Scotland: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ancient-Pinewoods-Scotland-Clifton-Bain/dp/1908737255

Which shows how Rothiemurchus is well managed and other areas not. There are hardly any native woods left in Scotland and their existence and nuturing is of an importance greatly in excess of maintaining an outdated form of land ownership.
Milesy - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com:
> (In reply to MG) Sorry, slow

Half the decrepit, rusting vehicles with flat tyres wouldn't make it far anyway, and if they did they would need actual MOTs, Insurance and Tax Discs lol..
Erik B - on 16 Oct 2013
In reply to Saor Alba: none of this will change while the house of lords exists and even gets its massive budget increased.

you know the answer to this situation of course..
Cuthbert on 16 Oct 2013
In reply to Erik B:

You are quite correct. I see Annabel Goldie is now in the House of Lords. Why????????????? That's her and the other trough seekers set up for life then. Won't be long til Darling is sooking up there too.

We have allowed our natural heritage to be degraded, communities to be stifled and huge damage done all for some weird and perverted deferential view of title and privilege.

nscnick - on 17 Oct 2013
In reply to drmarten: Alastair Riddell is no longer on the Local Access Forum. This estate does continue to exercise the Forum at length along with the other water based conflicts. Unfortunately the Forums have no power or authority to impose solutions so it is up to individiual complainers (or representative bodies) to take people to court ultimately. In any event the Land Reform Act grants the right of responsible access so instead of obeying the illegal signs they should be ignored - but responsibly of course. Most land owners are responsible and rarely cause any problems but the few bad apples give them all a bad name. All access problems should always be reported to the relevant local authority and in extreme cases complainers should always be prepared to make a report to the Police and be prepared to go to court. Third parties such as MCoS and Ramblers cannot really take on a case on someone else's behalf without the complainer being prepared to back it up. The Forum hears of complaints frequently but can do little with them other than write to the offending party becuase of a failure to substantiate and back up the complaint.
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Cuthbert on 18 Oct 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin:

Interesting Andy Wightman has the owner as:

Owner Rainheath Ltd.
Owner Address North Hill
Dishforth
THIRSK

I'm not sure how this relates to Simpson. It's not Gordie Simpson from Beauly, that I know!
tony on 18 Oct 2013
In reply to Saor Alba:
> (In reply to Douglas Griffin)
>
> Interesting Andy Wightman has the owner as:
>
> Owner Rainheath Ltd.
> Owner Address North Hill
> Dishforth
> THIRSK
>
> I'm not sure how this relates to Simpson.

Andrew Simpson is a Director of Rainheath:
http://www.companiesintheuk.co.uk/ltd/rainheath


rabthecairnterrier - on 18 Oct 2013
In reply to Nick Cole:

Although the Local Access Forum is a statutory body, its role is to advise the access authority (Highland Council in the case of Ledgowan)- the access authority can, if it so wishes, elect to ignore this advice. However, if it does so and an access issue ends up in the courts (either the Sheriff Court or the Court of Session) it would have to justify exactly why it ignored that advice. Councils are reluctant to go to the courts because of the cost, especially if they lose - Highland had its fingers badly burnt because of this a few years ago over another access issue - so the preferred approach is for the council to negotiate a solution with the support of the LAF. This is how things are actually supposed to work, and it is usually successful. Unfortunately in cases where the estate management is completely intransigent legal action may result anyway. The Ross & Cromarty LAF is currently lobbying Highland Council hard over Ledgowan.
Graham Briffett on 18 Oct 2013
In reply to gavmac:
Same here, Gav. That road makes my blood boil every single time - without fail. I'll be there on the 30th Nov, all being well.

How's form GavMac?
nscnick - on 23 Oct 2013
In reply to rabthecairnterrier: I'm on a couple of Forums, and for some time too! The lack of enforcement power is a problem, coupled with the lack of Council funds and their unwillingness to pursue cases. Ours has had its fingers burnt as well. A reduction in Access Officers is also not helping. If someone is being obstructive then there is little that can be done other than ignoring them and carrying on regardless. People need to be robust about though.
Douglas Griffin - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin:

Update: criminal investigation underway - see the Update box at http://www.andywightman.com/?p=3207 .
biped - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin:

You just beat me to that!

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