Walkers can finally access a Scottish estate at the centre of an access row, a court heard.
The entrance to the Boquhan estate
A pedestrian gate at the Boquhan estate owned by waste-disposal millionaire Euan Snowie has been unlocked, allowing the public to use most of the 70-acre area surrounding the businessman’s house. The hearing, at Stirling Sheriff Court, was held to decide on the necessity for a court order ordering the gates to be opened.
Counsel for Stirling Council, Andrew Smith QC, told the hearing a court order was not needed because Mr Snowie had unlocked a gate at the entrance to Boquhan, which Mr Smith described as ‘perfectly sufficient for our purposes’.
The gates to the property were locked in September 2005. Locals said they had used the estate as a walking route for many years up to then. Mr Snowie sought an exemption from the access provisions of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act, but Sheriff Andrew Cubie ruled in April this year that he was entitled to exclude the public from only 12¾ acres of the estate.
Sheriff Cubie will now give a written decision on costs in the case. Mr Snowie will have 14 days from the notice of costs to decide whether to appeal the original verdict. His lawyer John Campbell QC said the Snowie family was still considering whether to mount an appeal. He said: “My clients are clearly disappointed with the result.”
Stirling Council’s legal representative told the court: “If Mr Snowie decided to lock the gate again the matter could be brought back to court again, but I'm sure that won't happen.”
Access groups, including the Ramblers’ Association in Scotland, expressed concerns that cases such as Ann Gloag’s successful application to exclude the public from Kinfauns Castle, near Perth, and the Snowie case had it succeeded, risked blowing a hole in the spirit of the right-to-roam laws, which were passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2003.