Outdoor access rights and responsibilities

Perthshire offers many opportunities to get out and enjoy the outdoors, to walk, cycle, ride or paddle down rivers or sail around lochs. The countryside is also a home and workplace to people and wildlife and it is important that we understand our responsibilities and behave in a way which does not cause damage or annoyance to others.

Rights and responsibilities

The right to take responsible non motorised access in Scotland is provided for by the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 (LRA).  The Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC) has been produced to explain what is meant by responsible behaviour in any situation for both the 'access taker' and the 'land manager'.
It answers questions like:

  • Where can I go to enjoy the countryside without disturbing anyone who lives or works in the countryside?
  • Do I have the right to walk, cycle or ride in an area which belongs to someone else?
  • Do I need to pay attention to notices telling me to 'keep out'?

Is all land covered by access rights?

Not all land is within access rights, exceptions include gardens, school playing fields and growing crops. 
At times there may be a special event or area where normal access rights are not appropriate, in these cases an order of exemption can be applied. Reasons for exemptions might include:

  • Allowing a charge to be made for a particular event
  • In the interests of safety and security
  • Increasing privacy for particular events

Obstructions to public access

If you are prevented from exercising your right of responsible access by an obstruction, such as a locked gate, intimidating sign or person, you may wish to report the situation to the Council for advice or investigation. In these circumstances you should ensure your report is as full as possible and should include:

  • an accurate description of the location of the obstruction, including map based grid reference if possible
  • an accurate description of the date and circumstances encountered
  • a digital photograph of the obstruction if possible
  • your contact details including phone number and e-mail address

Ideally you should make your report by e-mail to the Customer Service Centre  at enquiries@pkc.gov.uk. The Council will acknowledge and record your report and may contact you to discuss it further or investigate it with a view to resolving the obstruction.

Current Exemption Orders

Exemption Orders are made under Section 11 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 to temporarily remove the legal right of public access from an area for a special purpose.

There is currently one Exemption Orders at present for The Solheim Cup.

I am organising an event - do I need an Exemption Order?

Not all events and activities will require an exemption order.  If normal access patterns are unlikely to be impacted upon by your event, or if access can be managed by way of temporary advisory notices and diversions, you may not require an exemption order. For more information view the icon a guide to making an application for an Order of Exemption from access rights for land / inland water. [43Kb]

To make an application, download and complete the icon Application for an order of exemption from access rights for land / inland water [58Kb].

Further information

The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 gives duties and powers to Councils and National Parks as Access Authorities with regard to outdoor access. You can request information and advice from our Community Greenspace officers in relation to access rights and responsibilities by emailing CommunityGreenspace@pkc.gov.uk. The Perth & Kinross Outdoor Access Forum are also able to advise.

Contact details

Community Greenspace

Pullar House, 35 Kinnoull Street, Perth, PH1 5GD
Tel 01738 476476