Section 7 — Provisions supplementing and qualifying section 6

Land Reform (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:30 pm on 22nd January 2003.

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Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament 4:30 pm, 22nd January 2003

Amendment 74 is grouped with amendments 99, 100, 102, 105, 106 and 128. I remind the chamber that timing is very tight on this grouping.

Photo of Allan Wilson Allan Wilson Labour

I will be as brief as I can, but there are a number of Executive amendments in the grouping, which arise as a result of the stage 2 consideration of the bill and subsequent discussions with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

Amendment 74 makes it clear that access rights can be exercised on all core paths regardless of whether they cross excluded land. That is an important clarification. The amendment will ensure that, for example, cyclists and horse riders can use a pedestrian right of way over excluded land where that right of way is a core path. Amendment 105, which removes section 19, is consequential on amendment 74.

We have always made it clear that a system of core paths throughout Scotland is an essential element in the new arrangements for access introduced by the bill. Most people prefer to walk on paths and a well-marked system of routes will encourage more people into the countryside. Equally important is the fact that the provision of paths will assist in the management of access, particularly over agricultural land.

The challenge in drawing up the provisions relating to core paths has been to balance the public's rights of responsible access to all land with appropriate powers for local authorities in respect of creating identified routes over someone's land.

Many useful points were made at stage 2, when we undertook to reconsider various provisions in the bill. We have had discussions with COSLA, which provided useful input. The amendments that we have lodged will provide a means of readily establishing a system of core paths that both meets the aspirations of those exercising access rights and respects the rights of landowners.

One concern raised at stage 2 was that the current wording of section 17(2) implies that the system of core paths must include every path that falls under paragraphs (a) to (c), so that, for example, every right of way would become a core path irrespective of its current level of use. Amendment 99 seeks to address that concern by clarifying that the system of core paths that section 17 refers to "may include" any routes or paths set down in that section, but not necessarily all such paths.

COSLA has particular concerns that section 17(2) requires that all core paths that are not rights of way, as in paragraph (a), or paths created under statute, as in paragraph (b), must be delineated under section 20 or section 21. COSLA has quite rightly argued that that is unnecessarily bureaucratic. For example, a local authority might decide that an existing farm track should be a core path. If so, the public will be able to exercise access rights along that track in so far as it does not cross excluded land. Given that, and given the consultation process that is required before adoption of a core paths plan, I am satisfied that further legal process such as that under sections 20 and 21 is not required.

Amendment 100 will introduce into section 17(2) a fourth class of core path, which can simply be any

"routes, waterways or other means by which persons may cross land."

That is an important change. As a result, everything identified on a core paths plan would form part of the system of core paths immediately on the adoption of the plan by the local authority—the farm track to which I referred would be a core path as soon as the core paths plan was adopted.

In addition, amendment 100 will make it clear that a core path might not be a physical path on the ground, but simply a route between two points. Those routes would be indicated on maps—we have already discussed amendments that would allow local authorities to signpost and waymark such routes and erect gates or stiles to facilitate their use. Only where a local authority considered it necessary to construct a path or cycle track would it have to invoke the provisions in section 20 or section 21. Again in response to concerns raised at stage 2, amendment 100 would make it clear that the system of core paths may include waterways.

I am not clear that section 18(9) regarding

"the extent of public rights in each of the core paths" is necessary. At stage 2, the Justice 2 Committee was concerned that the provision could restrict access rights. That would not be the case; the provision was intended only to provide information to the public. However, it is not essential and amendment 102 seeks to remove it from the bill in accordance with the committee's concerns.

On amendment 106, section 20(3) currently provides that

"A path agreement shall contain sufficient description of the land to which it relates to enable it to be recorded in the Register of Sasines or entered in the Land Register of Scotland as appropriate."

Section 20(4) provides that every path agreement that the local authority enters into must be recorded. On reflection, we do not consider that subsections (3) and (4) are necessary, given that the core paths plan and the list of core paths will be available to the public. As a result, there will be little doubt about the location of the paths. Any conveyancing solicitor would be expected to include the list of core paths in the routine searches.

Amendment 128 defines the term "core path" used in part 1 of the bill and clarifies that it

"means a path, waterway or any other means of crossing land such as is mentioned" in sections 17 and 18.

I move amendment 74.

Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party

I thank the minister for responding to many of the concerns that I expressed at stage 2. I particularly thank him for including water in the definition of core paths. As he and I discussed at stage 2, we might truly walk on water. We will support the amendments.

Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson Labour

I declare my interest as a partner in a family farming business.

The bill needs to recognise that access rights for pedestrians are not always compatible with equestrian use of footpaths. That depends on the soil type and drainage. The regular use by horses of footpaths on soft land can quickly make those paths impassable. That point must be addressed and I hope that the Executive will give priority to the rights of pedestrians.

Photo of Bill Aitken Bill Aitken Conservative

We have long thought that the way forward for responsible access is a good and well-maintained network of core paths. Such core paths should be placed through areas on a reasonable basis and they should be subject to maintenance, thus making them safe for members of the public to use. The advantage of a core path system is that it will inevitably lessen the possibility of conflict. Therefore, we are keen to encourage such a system.

We note that, in amendment 99, the Executive proposes to lessen the duties on local authorities to provide and maintain core paths. We would have difficulty in supporting that. The remaining amendments are reasonably sensible.

Photo of Allan Wilson Allan Wilson Labour

Amendment 99 recognises that not every right of way need become a core path, especially where that right of way has fallen into disuse over many years. That is in line with the flexibility that we are prepared to give local authorities to designate routes in their core path networks. That flexibility also extends to the point raised by my colleague John Home Robertson about the appropriateness of the use of paths by access takers—it is important to recognise that not every path is as appropriate for horses as it might be for cyclists or pedestrians.

The creation of the fourth class of designated route is important to ensure that adequate provision is made in the core path network for all access takers, including those who are disabled, to exercise their rights of responsible access.

Amendment 74 agreed to.

[Amendment 184 moved—[Roseanna Cunningham].]

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

The question is, that amendment 184 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 10

For: Adam, Brian, Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Ewing, Fergus, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Fabiani, Linda, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Grahame, Christine, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Harper, Robin, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, MacDonald, Ms Margo, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McGugan, Irene, McLeod, Fiona, Morgan, Alasdair, Neil, Alex, Paterson, Mr Gil, Quinan, Mr Lloyd, Reid, Mr George, Robison, Shona, Russell, Michael, Sheridan, Tommy, Stevenson, Stewart, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinney, Mr John, Ullrich, Kay, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Wilson, Andrew
Against: Aitken, Bill, Alexander, Ms Wendy, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Ms Margaret, Davidson, Mr David, Deacon, Susan, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Eadie, Helen, Ferguson, Patricia, Fergusson, Alex, Finnie, Ross, Fitzpatrick, Brian, Fraser, Murdo, Gallie, Phil, Gillon, Karen, Godman, Trish, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Gorrie, Donald, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Harding, Mr Keith, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, Johnstone, Alex, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lyon, George, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, MacKay, Angus, Maclean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, McAllion, Mr John, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McConnell, Mr Jack, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McLeish, Henry, McLetchie, David, McMahon, Mr Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Monteith, Mr Brian, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Mundell, David, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Oldfather, Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Scott, Tavish, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stone, Mr Jamie, Thomson, Elaine, Tosh, Mr Murray, Wallace, Ben, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan, Young, John

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

The result of the division is: For 36, Against 89, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 184 disagreed to.

[Amendments 75 to 77 moved—[Ross Finnie]—and agreed to.]

Amendment 185 moved—[Rhona Brankin]—and agreed to.

[Amendment 78 moved—[Ross Finnie].]

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

The question is, that amendment 78 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 11

For: Aitken, Bill, Alexander, Ms Wendy, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Curran, Ms Margaret, Davidson, Mr David, Deacon, Susan, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Eadie, Helen, Ferguson, Patricia, Fergusson, Alex, Finnie, Ross, Fitzpatrick, Brian, Fraser, Murdo, Gallie, Phil, Gillon, Karen, Godman, Trish, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Gorrie, Donald, Grant, Rhoda, Gray, Iain, Harding, Mr Keith, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, Johnstone, Alex, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lyon, George, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, MacKay, Angus, Maclean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Paul, McAllion, Mr John, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McConnell, Mr Jack, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McLeish, Henry, McLetchie, David, McMahon, Mr Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Monteith, Mr Brian, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Oldfather, Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Radcliffe, Nora, Raffan, Mr Keith, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Scanlon, Mary, Scott, John, Scott, Tavish, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Mrs Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stone, Mr Jamie, Thomson, Elaine, Tosh, Mr Murray, Wallace, Ben, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan, Young, John
Against: Adam, Brian, Campbell, Colin, Canavan, Dennis, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Ewing, Fergus, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Fabiani, Linda, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Grahame, Christine, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Lochhead, Richard, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, MacDonald, Ms Margo, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McGugan, Irene, McLeod, Fiona, Morgan, Alasdair, Neil, Alex, Paterson, Mr Gil, Quinan, Mr Lloyd, Reid, Mr George, Russell, Michael, Stevenson, Stewart, Sturgeon, Nicola, Swinney, Mr John, Ullrich, Kay, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Wilson, Andrew
Abstentions: Sheridan, Tommy

Photo of Lord David Steel Lord David Steel Presiding Officer, Scottish Parliament

The result of the division is: For 88, Against 33, Abstentions 1.

Amendment 78 agreed to.

[Amendment 79 moved—[Ross Finnie]—and agreed to.]