We have received three complaints about Kennedy Renewables restricting access to the Core Pathway that their existing development is built alongside.
One of the complaints were made public and stated;
“I went along the path through the Cowdenbeath golf course (that’s another story), I got to the entrance to the wind farm and yes the gate was padlock. There was a notice to its right containing a contact number so I thought I’d try it just to see if someone might come and open it to let me access the right of way, no such luck, it went to I think it was Scottish Power maintenance centre…………There is a HEALTH, SAFETY & ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION and a Enjoy Scotland`s outdoors responsibly sign, at the entrance to the Wind Farm/ right-of-way. But if you wish to access the walk you will have to climb over the gate to be able to access the walk. Which might prove difficult if you are walking with your dog or cycling and impossible if like myself use a mobility scooter to enjoy the countryside”
Core pathways have a right to access under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 and on the Fife Council website, they state;
These ‘core paths’ systems will be available for recreation and everyday journeys by local people and visitors, providing opportunities for walking, cycling, riding and other activities for all ages and abilities; and once in place, will form an invaluable nationwide resource.
Core paths will be of particular benefit close to where people live, and will be key elements in the path networks that will extend from the centre of settlements through public open spaces and green corridors to connect with the urban fringe and the wider countryside.
Since the operation of Little Raith, the open access to Core Pathways have been severely restricted by the developer in the following ways:
- Access gateways are padlocked and chained preventing access to a variety of users.
- Signage is in place restricting access.
Under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003:
(1)Everyone has the statutory rights established by this Part of this Act.
(2)Those rights (in this Part of this Act called “access rights”) are—
(a)the right to be, for any of the purposes set out in subsection (3) below, on land; and
(b)the right to cross land.
(3)The right set out in subsection (2)(a) above may be exercised only—
(a)for recreational purposes;
(b)for the purposes of carrying on a relevant educational activity; or
(c)for the purposes of carrying on, commercially or for profit, an activity which the person exercising the right could carry on otherwise than commercially or for profit.
We recognise that Section 6 of the the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 gives the developer reasonable legal excuse for the restriction of the core pathway;
(1)The land in respect of which access rights are not exercisable is land—
(a)to the extent that there is on it—
(i)a building or other structure or works, plant or fixed machinery;
However this legal restriction is removed under section 7;
(1)Section 6 above does not prevent or restrict the exercise of access rights over any land which is a core path.
(2)Land which bears to be within section 6 above by virtue of a development or change of use for which planning permission was or is required under the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 (c. 8) shall, if—
(a) such planning permission has not been granted; or
(b) such permission was granted subject to a condition which has not been complied with,
be regarded, for the purposes of that section, as if that development or change of use had not occurred.
The access roads are Core Pathways adopted by Fife Council. The developer has sought no permissions for change of use, and is therefore unlawfully breaching the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 for restricting and preventing individuals from exercising their rights to cross land. The proposed extension also incorporates a core pathway, and experience with the current wind farm suggests that in the event of consent the public would be similarly barred from using it.
As part of our representation to the Scottish Government Reporter who is dealing with the Kennedy Renewables extension appeal, we have highlighted this restricted access (as well as other issues), which you can view at: Little Raith – Appeal Documents.
We have also submitted a complaint to Fife Council asking for the situation to be addressed and rectified. We will make an update once we have received a response.