Orienteering access - guidance

The Scottish Orienteering Association (SOA) recommends that as a matter of good practice land managers are contacted by organisers of orienteering activities where practicable. Access to Scotland’s outdoors takes place under Scottish access rights, which apply to most land and inland water. These rights must be exercised responsibly, and land managers have to manage their land responsibly with regard to access. 

13th Feb 17

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The Scottish Outdoor Access Code explains what this means for recreational users and land managers, and has been approved by the Scottish Parliament. Orienteering event organisers should liaise with land managers and under some circumstances specifically ask for permission. Group outings by members are not classified as events (see Guidance)1, however local clubs are dependent on good relationships with landowners in order for events to take place and it is in their interests to maintain these good relationships.

The Guidance states: “Where a land manager’s permission is required, they may choose to make an appropriate charge. For events that are not commercial, this will often be closely tied to the cost of drawing up any written agreements, management time or facilities that the land manager will need to provide". Legislation does not give the landowner the right to charge for access itself. Most landowners do not choose to charge, unless they are providing facilities such as fields for parking. It should be stressed that the SOA has charitable status and events are not run on a commercial basis.

There are no formal channels to follow when staging an urban event, but it is good practice to liaise with the local authority so they are aware the event is taking place.  If you are using parks and public spaces it is possible that they may seek to make an administrative charge. Determine a good point of contact e.g. ward manager or area manager and they will typically inform other stakeholders as appropriate e.g. Councillors

If there are contacts locally with the police I would also encourage liaison – typically we are not looking for police support but should make them aware, certainly for major events. The formal route is a form available on www.scotland.police.uk/contact-us/organising-an-event. The police are more interested if there are crowds of spectators, alcohol or live music and generally are not fussed about orienteering.

Make sure that local residents get to know about events, possibly a good opportunity to promote orienteering in the local paper. If there are gates to be locked/unlocked if possible speak to the owner to ensure they stay locked/unlocked during the event (and as mapped). If a control is by someone’s house it is best to tell them what is going on (and may help with security).

A full guide to access is in preparation, a companion document to the SOA’s Good Practice Guide to Orienteering and the Environment

Outdoor events in Scotland: Guidance for organisers and land managers www.snh.gov.uk

Photo of authorPosted on 13th Feb 17
by Colin Matheson