Agreeing access to the site or area you are interested in recording is an essential part of your project. This will ensure that you avoid any potential conflict with landowners and that your work does not interfere with any land management schemes, such as lambing or stalking. You will find that any project, large or small, will benefit greatly from establishing a good working relationship with the landowner from the start. This section sets out your access rights and provides guidance on how to obtain permission from landowners.
It is quite possible that access into your chosen area is subject to occasional or seasonal constraints. These might include areas where there are lambs, calves or other young animals, fields containing crops, or activities such as stalking or shooting. The timing of your project is likely to be affected by these factors, so arrange access during other seasons with the landowner or manager. It is important to keep in close contact with the landowner or manager throughout your project. As a volunteer you will still be responsible for your own actions and it is important to obtain permission from the relevant landowner or other authority to carry out your project if it is on private land and involves repeat visits (see 3.64 in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code).
In many instances you may already know or know of the owner of the land where you intend to base your project. If you are at all unsure of whom to approach, you could contact the Registers of Scotland Customer Service Centre in either Edinburgh 0845 607 0161 or Glasgow 0845 607 0164. They may ask for a small fee. Enquiries can be made in person, by letter, fax, phone or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. An on-line facility is available at the www.whoownsscotland.org.uk website or you could try calling the relevant Access Authority (map and contact details on www.outdooraccess-scotland.com).
Since 2003, the Land Reform (Scotland) Act has given everyone statutory access rights to most land (and inland water), providing that they behave responsibly. Land managers, owners and occupiers are similarly responsible for giving due consideration to these access rights. The rights of members of the public and landowners are set out in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. Our collective responsibility for cultural heritage sites is covered in some detail in this document and we recommend that you read it before you start your project. Further information can be found at www.outdooraccess-scotland.com.
We recommend that you approach the landowner to request access at an early stage of your project plan. Although your future working relationship may be informal it is always good practice to clarify what you would like to do at the outset. A formal letter in which you can outline your project is a good way of doing this, as the landowner will be able to consider your request at leisure.
We have prepared a sample letter for you to give to a landowner outlining the aims of the project and what it will involve. click here to download our access letter. If this approach is successful, you could meet the landowner to discuss other issues and timings for the project in greater detail, as necessary.
It is important from the outset that the landowner is aware that the information that you will be gathering is intended for private research only and that you are not a representative of any statutory body.
The landowner will need a breakdown of your project timetable and certain assurances concerning physical access, liability and health and safety issues. You should formally agree a written schedule with the landowner and obtain their signature before undertaking your project. We have provided a Consent Form that you might want to give to the landowner, in which you can set out details about your project and your access requirements.
Remember the three key principles of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code apply to both the public and to land managers.
Respect the interests of other people
Care for the environment
Take responsibility for your own actions
More details about the Outdoor Access Code can be found at www.outdooraccess-scotland.com.