Ann Gloag wins
Kinfauns Castle overlooks the A90 just east of Perth, and itself is overlooked by the crags and footpaths of Kinnoull Hill (click here for walking story). The Coronation Road runs up on the east side of Kinfauns estate, and over to Scone. So there is plenty of opportunity for walkers in the area. However, Kinfauns Castle has attractive grounds and is a point of interest on walks around here. It had even been a CHA walking holiday centre for decades, before becoming a luxury hotel in the 1990s. Mrs Gloag has now bought it, converted it back to a private home, and had a high security fence erected around a 1-mile perimeter.
The big question therefore was whether this was contrary to the Right to Roam legislation passed in 2003 (see the Countryside Access page). The Ramblers Association and Perth & Kinross Council believed it was, and sought to have the fence removed via the courts. However, as the Courier reports today, Sheriff Michael Fletcher
decided that access rights did not apply to the contested area of her estate.
He said "The landowner is entitled to sufficient land to be excluded from access rights to enjoy their enjoyment of the house is not unreasonably disturbed.
To ignore the occupants' enjoyment of the house would be a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Persons living in a house of this kind, as it is in the country, would consider their enjoyment of that house would be considerably reduced if the house was not located in reasonably large grounds which were private."
A spokesman for Mrs Gloag has welcomed the decision as a victory for those who want "the right to enjoy reasonable privacy within their own homes" and argued it applied equally to those with smaller properties who didn't want people walking through their garden.
Put that way, the decision seems quite reasonable - the public have access through other parts of the Kinfauns estate; it's only the area surrounding the house that's recognised as restricted to private access.
However, the Ramblers Association and Perth & Kinrss Council are considering whether to appeal against this interpretation of the legislation. The Ramblers fear other landowners will be encouraged to try and keep people out of large areas of ground as a result.