The gates to the Boquhan estate of waste-disposal magnate Euan Snowie remain firmly closed, despite a court ruling demanding public access to the site.
The gates at the entrance to the Boquhan estate
The Ramblers’ Association in Scotland and Stirling Council won a landmark court case on Wednesday this week which determined that land at the estate, near Kippen, Stirlingshire, should be open to public access under Scotland’s right-to-roam laws. The Snowies say they are considering an appeal and that they can keep the entrance locked in the meantime if they decide to challenge the verdict.
A spokeswoman for Euan and Claire Snowie, who bought the Boquhan property in 2001, said, in any case, the gates were rusted solid and a blacksmith would be needed to reopen them. If it is required, she said, a contractor would be appointed.
The main, vehicular gates are mechanised, but heavy pedestrian gates exist either side and have been closed to the public since 2003.
The spokeswoman said: “The Snowies consider the judgement as a step towards clarifying some of the terms of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, but believe that some uncertainty remains.
“They are still unsure about the exact tests which are to be applied to determine what the act requires to assess the extent of sufficient adjacent land to enable persons living in any house to have reasonable measures of privacy in that house, and to ensure that their enjoyment of the house is not unreasonably disturbed.
“They feel that the requirements of each house are different and so the assessment of ‘sufficient adjacent land’ in terms of the act calls for judgment in every case.”
The Snowies’ hopes for an appeal therefore rest on the technicality that the estate encompasses not just their home, Boquhan House, but six other dwellings, including West Lodge, owned by the Ross family. Dr Barbara Ross and her husband Prof Lindsay Ross were vested as keyholders of the gates to the estate in a lease agreement arranged by the Snowies. Sheriff Andrew Cubie, in delivering his decision this week, said: “There was no apparent reason, either in relation to security or insurance that explained the lease arrangement.”
Euan and Claire Snowie sought to have 40 acres of the estate ruled out-of-bounds to the public under the provisions of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act. The sheriff decided this area was excessive and only about 15 acres were sufficient to afford them the privacy and security required.
The judgement contrasted with that passed by Sheriff Michael Fletcher at Perth last summer, in which Stagecoach bus magnate Ann Gloag successfully applied to have 12 acres of her Kinfauns Castle estate ruled out-of-bounds to the public.
The Snowies’ spokeswoman said: “The location and characteristics of Kinfauns Castle were very clearly taken into account by the sheriff, yet in the Snowies’ case the situation seems to have been assessed differently.”
Euan Snowie bought the Boquhan estate in 2001 after his company, Snowie Ltd, was bought by an Irish company. Snowie Ltd is believed to have been paid £38m for clean-up operations during the foot-and-mouth disease crisis that year.