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Outdoor access rights and responsibilities

The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 provides everyone with statutory access rights to most land and inland water for walking, cycling, horse riding and non-motorised water based activities. These rights are only available if they are exercised responsibly by respecting people's privacy, safety, livelihoods and the environment.

Land managers are required to manage their land and inland water responsibly in relation to access rights. Access rights and responsibilities are explained in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC). An information leaflet (PDF, 161kb) about the Code has been produced by Scottish Natural Heritage. 

Guidance on responsible recreational access

Cycling

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code for cyclists.

Canoeing and water sports

The Scottish Canoe Association has produced Paddlers' Access Code - access advice for paddlers in Scotland (PDF, 353kb).

The Scottish Canoe Association, Paths for All and Scottish Rural Property and Business Association have produced, Using inland waters responsibly - guidance for all water users

Camping

Guidance on responsible camping is available from the Scottish Outdoor Access Code website.

Dog walking

Our Paws for Thought (PDF, 944kb) project promotes responsible dog ownership and walking. Incentive bags are distributed by our dog wardens and Countryside Ranger Service. They are also available from receptions at Cunninghame House, Montgomerie House and Perceton House. They include:

  • a Paws for Thought leaflet
  • a reflector for your dogs collar
  • dog tidy bags

Horse riding

From the horse's mouth (PDF, 735kb) has been produced in partnership with the British Horse Society.

Temporary restriction of access - Section 11 Orders

Section 11 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 allows local authorities, whether on application from third parties or at their own initiative, to exempt a particular area of land from access rights for a particular purpose and for a short period of time. The powers are intended to address a number of situations, which range from small events such as local village fetes, to agricultural shows and larger events.

The Council adopted the policy on Section 11 orders (PDF, 49kb) on 4 May 2005. All applications must be lodged with North Ayrshire Council and applicants are required to complete the Short-term Access Rights Exemption Orders application form (PDF, 75 kb). The Council will consult the owner of the affected land on the proposed order and any order which excludes land for 6 days or more will require public consultation and Ministerial confirmation. All orders granted will be notified to the public and an order has effect for a maximum of 2 years unless re-enacted.

All applications should be received in advance of the recommended minimum periods highlighted in the policy to enable processing. The application process will be subject to an administration fee, as highlighted in Appendix A of the Policy. This charge covers the administration of the application and the cost of the Public Notice(s) required under the terms of the Act. Guidance notes for the completion of applications are provided in Appendix B of the Policy. Please contact the access officer for an outline of current charges.

Further guidance is available in the Section 11 Exemption Orders leaflet (PDF, 114kb).