Good progress has been made and we expect the access provisions of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 to come into force early next year. It will then be for local councils and national park authorities to draw up core path plans for their respective areas within the following three years.
The establishment of a core path network is a vital component in allowing access rights under the 2003 act, although such rights are not confined to that network. If we are serious about increasing and maintaining access to our countryside and mountain areas, it is important that we work in conjunction with our local authorities to ensure that the core path network delivers what is hoped for in the legislation. In the two years from next year, how much negotiation with local authorities will the minister have and when does he think that we will know what the core path network will look like?
Thus far, local authorities have been fully engaged in the work on the guidance on the preparation of the core path network and the implementation of the outdoor access code. We expect that work to continue. A total of £22 million over three years has been allocated to local authorities to support their work on access. We will continue to consult authorities on guidance and other matters that relate to the implementation of the core path network throughout Scotland.