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Spey Access Update

Here are some updates on the Spey, including a number of breaches to the LRA, which are hugely damaging to the spirit; integrity and long-term durability of the excellent Access Legislation sculpted in 2003. The Spey needs your support, please read the following update and documents from David Craig , River Advisor for the Spey to find out more:

As many will already be aware there has been a serious breach of the Land Reform Act at the Ballindalloch March Pool. There has been erected along the roadside a 300 metre long; 7 foot high fence on the pretext of protecting a few saplings along the riverbank and for ‘Health & Safety reasons’, the landowner is falsely claiming it is hazardous to park by the March Pool. This blatant move to block pedestrian access to one of the longest established roadside access/egress points to any river in Scotland is nothing to do with trees or ‘health and safety’. Further the landowner views the vehicular access to the Ayeon Pool as a perfectly acceptable ‘alternative’ to the March Pool. However, the Ayeon Pool is already a designated Core Path, SRA 11 on the Moray Core Path Plan. Thus no real alternative/additional pedestrian access is being offered following the erection of this unsightly barricade. Rather alarmingly, to date, members of the Moray Local Outdoor Access Forum have erred towards supporting the landowner in his offering the Ayeon Pool as an alternative access point and also on his so called ‘road safety concerns’. Thus, we have a LOAF prioritising road-safety over their fundamental remit to uphold access rights in keeping with the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. Landowners, also, have no legal obligation to address matters of road safety but landowners do have a legal responsibility to uphold and indeed encourage/promote access. Moray Council Roads Dept. have confirmed to the Moray Access Manager that there is no danger at this location on such a quiet road and no accidents or near-misses have been reported. A dangerous precedent is being set here ~ one which could be followed by other landowners and managers ~ along the lines of: If one wishes to put a stop nuisance access takers, simply plants a few trees, erects a high fence; no one asks any questions (~ appears that one doesn’t even require planning permission!!) and one has an immediate result! = end of public access rights. Indeed one might ask why saplings have been planted only on the short section of riverbank at the March Pool but nowhere else along the very extensive length, indeed miles of Ballindalloch riverbank, much of it without riverside trees.

Many thanks to those who have already made representation to Moray Council. If you have not already done so, I would ask that you write immediately to the Moray Council Access Manager, Ian Douglas ian.douglas@moray.gov.uk or the Moray Council Chief Executive, Roddy Burns, roddy.burns@moray.gov.uk requesting that rightful, public pedestrian access right be upheld at this key location. 

Finally, I would also take this opportunity to confirm the existence of the Spey Users’ (Paddlers’) Environment Fund. Basically this an invitation to all who paddle the Spey to make a financial contribution, probably on a pro-rata basis, to an account held at The Lodge but ring-fenced for use only on SUG/Paddler approved projects (~ e.g.: the current funding of the portaloo at the Ballindalloch access points). With the fund in place other projects deemed necessary but relating only to paddler-use can be financed without repeated requests (mainly from me) to paddlers for money. Details of the SUG Access Fund can be found within the 2016 version of the Spey Guide.

An up-to-date copy of the Spey guide is now available here, and the access update can be read in more detail here