Quarter of land managers experienced anti-social behaviour in the countryside

Press Release

A quarter of land managers looking after Scotland’s beautiful countryside have experienced anti-social behaviour from members of the public this year including witnessing fighting, people shouting abuse and noise from parties.

The findings are part of a report into responsible access to the countryside carried out by Scottish Land & Estates (SLE), the membership body for land managers, landowners and rural businesses. The survey of almost 100 SLE members carried out in September 2020 also found that this year:

  • 40% had issues with the public lighting irresponsible fires in the countryside including chopping down trees and pulling up fence posts for firewood and leaving burnt patches.
  • 30% had problems with ‘dirty campers’ leaving broken glass and other mess behind and not burying human waste.
  • 36% had experienced members of the public parking irresponsibly by blocking gates and country roads, making it difficult for the emergency services and farm vehicles to pass.
  • 62% reported litter being left behind.
  • 50% had problems with irresponsible dog walkers letting their dogs off the lead near livestock and wildlife and not bagging and binning their dog poo.

Sarah-Jane Laing, Chief Executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said:

“We want people to enjoy visiting the Scottish countryside safely and responsibly. Getting out and about and taking in the fresh air, nature and peacefulness of rural Scotland can be extremely beneficial for our mental and physical health. Sadly, there is a minority that is causing a great deal of harm to wildlife and livestock, the environment and other people who visit, live and work in the countryside. 

“Our members who manage land work hard to ensure wildlife flourishes, to help the environment and to provide safe access for the public on land in rural Scotland. We would like to see a Scotland-wide education programme which better publicises the Scottish Outdoor Access Code to ensure people know how to behave safely and responsibly. We also want to see more support for the police to allow better enforcement of existing legislation to deal with those causing serious problems in the countryside. This way everyone can enjoy the countryside safely”

In Scotland, you can go on to most land to enjoy the outdoors – as long as you behave responsibly. This is known as Scottish access rights. When you are enjoying the outdoors, you must follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. The Code has three main rules: 

  • respect the interests of other people
  • care for the environment
  • take responsibility for your own actions.

The full report can be viewed online here.