September 2001

Top marks for Scottish Highlands

The Scottish Highlands have been voted the most attractive area in Britain for people to visit, by a group of mapmakers. Stunning scenery and a variety of cultural and historical features saw the Highlands preferred to Devon, Greater London and Argyll and Bute by the eight-person panel. Cartographers and editors at Collins' 2002 Road Atlas of Britain voted for the regions based on information in their new publication. The panel from England, Scotland and Wales, was asked to award each region between one and 10 points across a range of categories. It assessed factors including road provision and quality, flora and fauna and entertainment. The Highlands came ahead of other British regions in four out of the 10 main categories, each judged according to five criteria measuring facilities and features. It was judged to have the best coastline, best history, best geography and best tourist towns. The region's tally of 79 points was 24 points higher than the nearest rival, Devon, with 55 points. London received 48 points, while Argyll and Bute, with 42 points, scored highly for its natural features, which include Loch Lomond. Collins cartographic publisher Mike Cottingham said: "This was a fairly light-hearted exercise which illustrates that while people use road atlases to get from A to B, they can also use them for many other things, such as making informed decisions about different areas of the country. The survey also confirmed what we at Collins already know - that we are lucky to live in the most interesting and historic country in the world." Mr Cottingham said the Highlands had done particularly well because the area had 27 castles, 11 battlefields, 16 ancient monuments, eight museums and 12 distinctive buildings, as well as 19 lighthouses. "With more miles of unspoilt coastline than any other area, 32 nature reserves, the most lochs and lakes and the highest and biggest mountains, it's a must for fans of the great outdoors as well as those fascinated by Britain's historical heritage," he added.

Climber dies in Alps

A Scottish climber has died in a mountaineering accident in the French Alps, the Foreign Office has confirmed. Ewan Easton, 19, from Bearsden near Glasgow, was climbing in the Grenoble area when the accident happened. A Foreign Office spokesman said Mr Easton was killed following an incident in the mountains near St Christophe D'Oisans. He is reported to have fallen from a height of 4,000 metres while abseiling down the southern side of the mountain with a friend. The body of the dead man is understood to have been recovered by helicopter. The spokesman said: "Police are still investigating the cause of the accident and are still trying to determine the cause of death.'' He added that the accident occurred either late on Wednesday night or early Thursday. Mr Easton was the son of Murray Easton, the managing director of Babcock International who run Rosyth Dockyard in Fife. A spokesman for Babcocks said: "It is a great sadness. The thoughts of everyone at Babcocks are with Murray and his family. It is very tragic."

Glen Nevis filming closes crags

Popular climbing crags in Glen Nevis will be closed to the public this week due to filming. TV company Union Pictures are currently shooting a series of one hour drama programmes based around mountain rescue for the BBC. The outside filming for Rock Face is located in and around Glen Nevis and in most circumstances will not cause any inconvenience to walkers or climbers. However, between August 30 and September 7 they are filming a fall and rescue at SW Buttress, at Polldubh. The company has asked that climbers stay away from the crag during this time. They apologise for any inconvenience caused. Members of the local Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team are helping and advising the film company and no damage will be done to the crags during the making of the film (no bolts, pegs or other artificial fixtures are being used).

Angus cliff rescue

A Broughty Ferry man was rescued from cliffs near Auchmithie on September 2 after becoming cragfast while out for a walk with his family. Kenneth McLeod (32) got stuck while attempting to climb from the beach just north of the clifftop village. A small crowd of onlookers gathered when it became clear that Mr McLeod had reached a point where he could neither continue up or come back down. The alarm was raised and the rescue services, consisting of coastguards from Arbroath and Montrose, Arbroath's inshore and offshore lifeboats, firefighters, police and paramedics, were sent to the scene. Although fortunately not required, a rescue helicopter crew from RAF Boulmer was also placed on standby. Firefighters and coastguards used lines and harnesses to reach Mr McLeod and lower him to safety and a reunion with his wife and child. A spokesman for HM Coastguard said that it had been a textbook rescue but one which highlighted the dangers of climbing on cliffs. He said: ''The rescue went very well, the coastguard teams responded very quickly and acted very professionally for volunteers. This does show, however, that climbing is not advisable unless you have the correct gear and proper safety measures in place.'' Despite clinging to his precarious perch for around an hour, Mr McLeod suffered no injury other than a hurt pride. This he confirmed with paramedics waiting for him at the bottom of the cliffs. He also thanked the various members of the rescue services who had come to his aid.

To bit, or not to bite

A group of Shakespearean actors has been forced to cancel an open-air performance after realising they could not combat the Scottish midge. Fearful that their drama would descend into farce, the Widow Didos All Stars will not now perform The Tempest on Rannoch Moor. The infestation of midges on the moor has been described by visitors this year as "beyond belief" and, with no alternative indoor venue available, the Perthshire group's September 15 performance had to be cancelled. "We performed at several outdoor venues in Perthshire during July and the midge problem was getting progressively worse," said Nora Brown, the company's director. "Our final performance was scheduled for Rannoch Moor seven weeks after the end of the run and we've decided - on advice from our scouts - to leave the moor to the midges. Most of our 20-strong cast are over 40. We're too old to try and run around dodging the jaws of these vicious insects. "The sensible thing was to admit defeat and regroup for a new assault on the great outdoors - and all its hazards - next year." Shakespeare's The Tempest tells of a man with magical powers which he uses to fend off the strange "non-human" creatures on an enchanted island. But as principal actress Jacqueline Thorby explained, the Scottish midge is too powerful for Prospero's magic to overcome. "I found myself being bitten to death at some locations," she said. "They really attack with a vengeance. "During the play I desperately wanted to slap at them on my face and neck - but that would detract from the plot somewhat."

Cairngorms to be UK's largest national park

Scotland's second national park will be the largest in Britain under proposals unveiled by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). The body is recommending a national park in the Cairngorms which is more than twice the size of the Lake District. Under the proposals, drawn up after wide consultation, the park authority will share planning powers with local councils. Campaigners for the national park said the lack of power does not make sense but others believe it will give local people more say. The planned park area, recommended by SNH, stretches from Grantown-on-Spey in the north to Blair Atholl in the south, and from Laggan in the west to Ballater in the east. The 4,500 square kilometres include the Cairngorms and Lochnagar massifs, the remnants of the ancient Caledonian Forest and the Queen's Balmoral Estate. The Queen's residence will not be bound by the park legislation - though it is hoped the estate will continue to co-operate with environmental management in the area. Planning power for development applications will remain with the five local authorities which lie within the park. Applications will be judged against a local plan, to be prepared by the local council in partnership with the park authority. The Cairngorms Campaign, one of the organisations involved in the consultation, condemned the lack of planning powers for the park authority. It said the park could be the least empowered and the most impoverished in Britain. Campaigning officer Bill Wright said: "Ministers may have to intervene more often to sort out disputes when they arise between the park authority and one or more of the local authorities." Dr John Markland, chairman of Scottish Natural Heritage, said it was important to address both environmental and social and economic issues in the national park area. He said: "I think everybody felt it was important that the communities that surround the mountains are included in the national park area, not just the mountains themselves." On the issue of planning powers, Dr Markland said SNH had taken a different view to other national parks. He said: "We have taken the view that there needs to be a genuine partnership approach to planning with the national park authority being an equal partner with local authorities in the planning process. The local authorities will remain as the planning authorities, but the national park, under our recommendations, will have a right of objection and reference to Scottish ministers.'' Scottish Natural Heritage has delivered its report to the Scottish Executive after a huge consultation on proposals for a Cairngorms National Park. In September last year, Scottish ministers made a formal proposal for a national park in the area, and asked SNH to consult widely on it. Dr Markland continued: "This consultation was the largest and most comprehensive exercise of its kind ever undertaken by SNH. There is now a clear and increasing majority of local and national opinion behind the park. We were particularly pleased to work so closely with the community councils and associations in the area, many of whom organised their own events to get the views of people who live and work in the area." The SNH report concludes that the board of the National Park Authority should have 25 members five elected directly, 10 local authority-nominated, and 10 appointed by ministers. That would guarantee that 60% of the board would be either directly elected or the nominated representatives of the democratically-elected structures in the area. The share of nominations from local authorities should be: Aberdeenshire 3, Angus 1, Highland 4, Moray 1, and Perth and Kinross 1. The park authority would have the general powers and functions set out in the National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000. If ministers are satisfied on the basis of SNH's consultation report that the national park proposal for the area is sound, they will prepare a draft designation order. That will be subject to further consultation by the Scottish Executive. The order will then be laid before the Scottish Parliament. The Government's intention is for those steps to be completed early next year with the prospect of formal establishment of a park early in 2003. Alternatively, ministers may decide to withdraw their proposal or hold a public local inquiry if they feel there are issues which require scrutiny.

Capercaillie protection package

Scotland's environment minister has announced a £70,000 package to help protect one of the country's most endangered birds. Rhona Brankin has also revealed that she plans to change legislation to make killing the capercaillie an offence. During the 1970s the rare species numbered about 20,000 in Scotland - the figure is now closer to 1,000. Although climate change has been a factor in the bird's decline, research has also revealed that deer fencing throughout the countryside as a direct impact on its ability to survive. As a result, funding will be allocated to the Forestry Commission for the removal and marking of fences in areas close to known capercaillie populations. Ms Brankin said she would introduce changes to legislation during the first few days of the new session of the Scottish Parliament which would make shooting or killing the capercaillie an offence. She said: "The capercaillie is a bird characteristic of Scotland. Many have highlighted the plight of this magnificent bird and I will be laying within the first few days of the new session changes to legislation. "Only some 1,000 capercaillie remain in Scotland from a population of approximately 20,000 in the 1970s. Work will begin shortly on Forest Enterprise and privately managed woodland and I thank the Forestry Commission for their imagination and determination to work with the Scottish Executive in this initiative." Andy Miles of the RSPB said the funding move and the law change are very important steps forward. The Scottish Landowners Federation said its members should be allowed to retain their right to shoot one of the capercaillie. The organisation claims it has been happy to comply with a voluntary ban on shooting the bird. But it does not agree with moves by the executive to outlaw shooting altogether.

Angus hill safety plea

With the onset of winter, advice on walking from the emergency services is plentiful, and yet many walkers and hill users fail to recognise the dangers of venturing out in the winter, even on low-level wanders. The Angus Glens are a favorite area for visitors throughout the year and the colder months see walkers of all abilities visit Glen Doll, the starting point to access a number of summits and long distance routes such as Jock's Road. The Angus Glens Ranger Service based in Glen Doll was established 1998. The Service operates a Route Card Service from the information shelter in the main car park, walkers and climbers can leave details of their party, intended route and estimated time of return. Rangers check information on the cards at the end of the day. If parties are badly overdue or if cars are still in the car park after dark the emergency services are informed. In the event of an incident the route card system can greatly assist rescue teams in pinpointing areas to search which saves time and manpower and ultimately could save lives. Hillwalking and climbing in the winter can be a rewarding experience but at high level should only be undertaken by those with the experience and ability to travel and navigate in extremes of weather conditions or by novices in the company of experienced folk. Scotland's mountains in winter conditions can be arctic in aspect and even the most innocuous walk in summer can be transformed into a serious undertaking in winter. The winter season last year saw the rescue services called out to Glen Doll on six occasions, two of these call outs resulted in fatalities with three people losing their lives. If you are planning a trip please ensure that you are properly equipped and that someone has details of your route, if you are accessing the hills from Glen Doll then make use of the Route Card System in the car park. Additional food and clothing should be carried as a precaution and inform the Ranger Service if you intend to leave your car parked overnight in the Glen Doll car park. If you would like any additional information please contact the Angus Glens Ranger Service on 01575 550233.

Nevis management strategy

Climbers, walkers and tourists could find themselves being quizzed as they set out to explore one of the Highlands' most picturesque glens or ascend the UK's highest peak. Interviewers and observers will be mounting the survey next week at entry points to Glen Nevis and the associated mountains, near Fort William. It is the latest move by an inter-agency working party, spearheaded by Highland Council, which is formulating a long-term strategy for the management of Glen Nevis. Data will be gathered during the extensive survey of visitor and traffic numbers, tourists' attitudes and opinions, where they have come from and the length of their visit. Working party chairman Councillor Neil Clark said: "The purpose of gathering this data is for it to act as a base for future funding applications to improve the standard of maintenance to paths, signs and parking areas in Glen Nevis and the busier paths around the adjacent mountains and glens." It has already published a draft strategy, which could cost up to £400,000 to implement. It is hoped agencies such as Scottish Natural Heritage will help foot much of the bill. The draft suggests the introduction of a code of practice to control charity fundraising events on Ben Nevis and the introduction of a contribution from organisers towards the cost of cleaning up after them. It has also called for the removal of some cairns and memorials on the cluttered summit of the Ben and a reduction in the number of direction markers. The study also suggests a traffic management scheme which would see improved public transport, restrictions on parking and peak-season car access to the upper glen. It advocates a new strategy for dealing with land management, planning and development and visitor provision, and suggests the setting up of a number of partnership companies and advisory groups. The working party was set up in 1998 following concerns about the environmental impact on the area from the thousands of visitors who flock there each year, and its future in the National Parks debate. Calls have also been made for a similar exercise to be carried out in Glen Coe, which could also be designated as a National Park along with the Cairngorms. But the council's Lochaber area committee feels that it should be treated as a separate entity and put on hold until completion of the Ben Nevis study.

Walker found dead in Glencoe

A lone female hillwalker has been found dead by rescuers in Glencoe. Physiotherapist Lindsay Jane Wright (41), from Edinburgh, was reported overdue on the night of Monday, September 17. Her body was discovered on Aonach Dubh a'Ghlinne by a rescue team. She'd suffered fatal injuries. It is thought she had slipped in wet conditions and fallen more than 200 feet.

Camping in Glen Doll

Efforts to bring camping back to an Angus beauty spot are continuing behind the scenes. Options to provide a proper facility for visitors are being discussed by members of the Glen Doll Partnership following the closure of the Forestry Commission's campsite there. One of the suggestions favoured by the commission is an alternative site, particularly one near facilities and with better infrastructure. It has all but ruled out the re-opening of its camping ground by the Glen Doll car park, shut earlier this year at the outbreak of the foot and mouth disease crisis. It remains closed. Commission spokesman Charlie Taylor said the cost of upgrading the Glen Doll site was prohibitive in the current climate. He said money needed to be spent on better toilets, costing anything between £20,000 and £40,000; a further £5,000 to £10,000 is required to improve the water supply and upgrading security adds another £5000 to £10,000 to the bill. "We are in a very difficult position because the usage of the site has grown to exceed its capacity, but there are not enough users to justify investment in improvements,'' Mr Taylor explained. "For 3000 users a year it would be difficult for us, in current financial circumstances, to commit money to it. But the fundamental issue is we do not have the money to upgrade the site.'' He also saw difficulties in extending the site at Glen Doll to cater for peak demand even if there were resources available. The issue is one of the topics exercising the minds of members of the Glen Doll Partnership - comprising the commission, Angus Council, Scottish Natural Heritage and local people - during their meetings. Mr Taylor is supportive of exploring an alternative site, with Glen Clova mooted, especially where it brought campers closer to facilities. He hoped that a glen business would see an opportunity to enhance their operation and at the same time diversify by catering for campers. "This is quite a promising option and a business in the glen going down this road would get our backing,'' Mr Taylor continued. "There is no denying there is an obvious demand there from campers who could help to sustain another business. It would be more feasible to link a camp site to an existing business with existing infrastructure.'' It is also a development which might win the support of a number of Glen Doll visitors who have not lamented the loss of the campsite. Letters to the Forestry Commission in praise of the closure have outnumbered those of complaint. Mr Taylor added: "One man, a regular visitor, said the area had improved because it is now much quieter and the ranger service says there are more people using the car park and picnic area.''

Missing walker walker found dead

The body of a dead hillwalker believed to be Mr David Burt (33), from Derbyshire, has been found in Wester Ross. He disappeared on Monday, September 17, while on a hillwalking holiday in the area. Police found Mr Burt's R-reg Honda Civic car at Corrie Haillie, near Dundonnell, with a hillwalking magazine inside, a page of which had been torn out. His parents feared for his safety when he failed to return to his work with Derby City Council's grounds maintenance department. Rescue teams spent almost a week scouring the slopes around An Teallach. The Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team started looking for him after being contacted by Derbyshire Police who were concerned that Mr Burt had not been seen since August 30. A spokesman for Northern Constabulary said that it was a large area to cover and they were hampered in their search by the lack of accurate information available. Stornoway Coastguard flew over the area using heat-seeking equipment in an attempt to locate the walker.

More midge misery

Research continues to highlight the full horror of Scotland's infamous midge. A new study has revealed just how inescapable Culicoides impunctatus is. In the space of an hour, an astonishing 40,000 of the wicked winged bloodsuckers will land on an unprotected arm, putting the average hillwalker in line to receive a potential 11 bites a second. Research has also shown that the nature of sweat could be a critical factor in attracting midges, and that vegetarians and pregnant or breastfeeding women could be more at risk than the rest of the outdoor fraternity. Dr Jenny Mordue, of the University of Aberdeen's zoology department, experimented with a new variety of insect repellent on behalf of the World Health Organisation. Students were taken into the countryside at dusk with one arm protected by the repellent, and the other one left unprotected. Any insects which landed on the volunteer students were removed with an insect-catching device. Mordue said: ''The volunteers were very brave. Even on the treated arm, midges were landing at a rate of 8,000 an hour, but they were hardly biting at all. On the other arm, we were registering 40,000 landings an hour.'' Her research will be detailed this week at the symposium of the Royal Entomological Society at the University of Aberdeen, while the repellent is now being marketed commercially. But other studies also being presented at the conference could lead to new and better ways to ward off midges, and explains the belief that some people are more prone to bites than others. The key, Mordue explained, is in the odours on our breath. Biting insects are attracted to the carbon dioxide produced when humans and animals exhale. However, research into the antennae that act as a midge's nose have revealed other factors. ''One is the breakdown product from chewing up plants, which is one of the reasons cows are affected. But we also have it in our breath - and we are looking for funding to study whether vegetarians are particularly prone to being bitten,' Mordue said. Lactic acid bacteria, which cause milk to ferment, are also a risk factor, so someone who is breast-feeding could also be in danger from biting insects, she added. ''Researchers have already shown that pregnant women in Africa are more prone to mosquito attack than those who are not pregnant.'' However, the holy grail of insect repellents is the ingredient with which some humans and animals mask the attractive chemicals and scientists are working hard to try and identify this chemical. One Edinburgh scientist is exploring the possibility that tiny variations in the composition of human sweat could trigger an attack. Dr Sally Singh of Edinburgh University's centre for tropical veterinary medicine has carried out tests which may show that sweat could also explain why some people venture into the wilderness in safety, while others will be swarmed. Meanwhile, another researcher at the conference will warn that Scots are getting off lightly. A second species of midge, prevalent in North Africa, appears to be migrating north, bringing with it a disease as devastating as foot-and-mouth. Dr Philip Mellor, of the Institute for Animal Health, said: ''This year the bluetongue virus reached Sardinia, Sicily, Corsica and mainland Italy for the first time. The midge is one of the suspect transmitters of the disease .''

Deer dumping plan

Plans to dump deer carcasses in burial pits because of export restrictions introduced as a result of foot-and-mouth disease are being considered by the Scottish Executive. A spokesman for the executive said "all options" were being examined as up to 20,000 carcasses require disposal following this year's annual slaughter of hinds. Normally two thirds of the cull is sold in continental Europe but the export ban on red meat has stopped the venison trade from Scotland. Some landowners have suggested a surplus of venison on the domestic market could make a cull unprofitable. That has raised fears some Scottish estates might leave carcasses to rot on the hillside where they were shot. It is thought others might put off a cull until next year which could have environmental consequences and drive up the cost of the slaughter in 2002. In the past 50 years the numbers of red deer in Scotland have trebled to around 300,000 and big herds can destroy young forestry plantations. A Scottish Executive spokesman said: "Officials have met with interested representatives and the environment and rural affairs department is looking at detailed options. Game dealers may not continue to uplift carcasses if there is a further market failure. All options for disposal of excess carcasses, if that becomes necessary, are being evaluated and considered." The Association of Deer Management Groups said there were concerns about falling prices and a collapse in the market. However, the body was insistent the cull would go ahead. Chairman Stephen Gibbs said: "We don't want to get into a position of dumping carcasses on the hill, so in these circumstances burial is the only option. We want the executive to give us help before the market collapses." 

5000th rescue

RAF airmen picked up an injured hillwalker on Ben Nevis on Saturday, September 22, making their 5,000th rescue. And on Sunday night the 202 Squadron at RAF Lossiemouth, were called into action again to help with the recovery of a body on the Tower Ridge area of the Ben. The body was found by Lochaber Mountain Rescue after reports that a climber had fallen in the area. He was later named as Thomas Kelly (30), of Upper Burnside Drive, Thurso. The RAF squadron has carried out their search-and-rescue role from the Morayshire base since 1973. Flight Lieutenant Liz Holmes said after the first rescue: "There are no celebrations planned, we are just pleased that the milestone has been reached. We will now look to achieving another 5,000 and with the mountains becoming busier, it is likely we may do it in a shorter time." The Sea King crews are averaging between 250 and 300 rescue missions a year with the busiest coming in 1999 when a total of 280 mercy flights were flown. Out of eight RAF and Royal Naval search-and-rescue bases in the UK, Lossiemouth is one of the busiest covering both the country's highest mountains and the rough waters of the North Sea. The woman airlifted on the milestone mission was Sarah Power (37), a bank clerk from Blackley, Manchester, who suffered a groin injury while walking the tourist path on Ben Nevis. Members of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team, who went to her aid after they had been exercising on the peak, discovered a second casualty. Sharon Southall (36), an IT development officer, of Barrier Point Road, London, had slipped at the midway point on the mountain track and injured her knee. Both were airlifted to Fort William by the RAF Sea King helicopter. Ms Power was detained overnight at the Belford Hospital, while Ms Southall was discharged after treatment. A partially-sighted man was later airlifted off the peak after becoming exhausted during a charity walk. The man, who is not being named by police, was among a party of 14 blind and sight-impaired people taking part in the walk on Ben Nevis to raise funds for the Royal National Institute for the Blind. He experienced difficulties during the descent of the tourist path in the Red Burn area and members of RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team, who accompanied the walkers, called for assistance. The rescue helicopter, which was in the area at the time, airlifted the man to Fort William. He was unhurt and did not require medical treatment.

Right to roam victory

Plans to make trespassing on somebody's land a criminal offence are to be dropped by the Scottish Executive following fierce objections from walkers and mountaineers. One of the most controversial sections of the Land Reform Bill, which is due to be published in November, would have turned trespassers into criminals for the first time in Scotland. But ministers are now preparing to bow to pressure and rewrite the proposed law. The climb down has been welcomed by outdoor recreation groups, although they remain deeply worried by other provisions in the bill that they think could still restrict the traditional freedom to roam enjoyed by walkers in Scotland. Representatives of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) are due to meet with the Deputy First Minister, Jim Wallace, on Tuesday, October 2. ''This is the first step of many that are needed,'' said Mike Dales, MCofS access and conservation officer. ''The whole bill is so flawed that removing this clause just makes it slightly less horrendous.'' The revelation about the change of heart came in a letter to a concerned constituent from the Liberal Democrat MSP Euan Robson, the deputy minister for Parliament. Walker Laurie Macaskill had argued that section 15 making trespass a criminal offence would cause 'unacceptable problems'. In reply Robson said that he agreed with her point about the criminalisation of trespass. ''There are to be changes to the draft bill and this is an area where revisions will take place following the consultation exercise,'' he wrote. There were around 3500 responses to the consultation on the draft Land Reform Bill, a record number for any consultation over the last number of years. Many of them expressed concern about the introduction of a criminal law relating to trespass in Scotland. ''Ministers have made clear that the draft bill is not set in stone. It is a working document,'' Jim Wallace's special advisor, Polly McPherson said. ''We will be making a number of changes to the bill in the light of the comments we have received.'' Having forced one change, outdoor groups are now hoping they can persuade the Scottish Executive to ditch other disputed sections in the bill. The bill still gives new powers to landowners to suspend rights of access to land and water for management reasons. The Ramblers' Association Scotland has previously accused the Scottish Executive of being overly influenced by farmers and landowners in drafting the bill. Now it is worried that a few Lib Dem MSPs from rural areas are blocking further improvements to the legislation. Robson himself, though accepting the change on trespass, backs powers for landowners to suspend access during commercial or agricultural activities. There is, he said, ''a need to restrict the current unfettered access in such areas as privacy, safety and legitimate commercial interests''. Landowners, however, stressed the importance of powers of last resort to enable the police to arrest individuals who acted irresponsibly, although they had doubts about whether making trespass a criminal offence would be effective. 'It is important that any legislation bringing forward new rights has checks and balances to protect against any potential abuse of such rights,' said a spokesman for the Scottish Landowners Federation. 'We firmly believe that there needs to be safeguards to protect landowners and land managers from the problems of irresponsible access, and that such safeguards need to be enforceable to be effective. However, we are not sure that the proposed new offence will be an effective mechanism, particularly in terms of the resource implications.'