There’s been a very encouraging response to Argyll and Bute Council’s consultation on the Core Paths Plan which ended on 4 April 2011. There have been responses from 274 individuals and organisations who have made representations about 318 paths and launching points.
The Core Paths Plan will record a network of paths for local people and visitors of all abilities who wish to walk, cycle, ride horses or participate in water sports like canoeing. It also includes a number of Launching Points - these are paths that give access to loch shores or the sea for canoes or kayaks, sailing dinghies as well as sub-aqua divers. The network of Core Paths will provide the backbone of the wider path network in Argyll and Bute.
Almost 90 percent of the Proposed Core Path Network, 980 miles, received no objections and will therefore be included in the final Core Paths Plan. Of a proposed 185 launching points, 172 have been accepted without an objection.
The Plan includes a range of paths in and around communities as well as some of the more popular remote or hill paths. It also includes some “Aspirational Paths” which record the desire to provide improved or new paths perhaps linking communities when funding becomes available. Many of the proposed Core Paths are close to where people live and can include minor roads, surfaced paths, forestry roads and farm tracks or simple trodden paths across fields, through woodland or over beaches.
The Council’s Access team will now visit many of these paths before writing reports on the paths and launching points which have received objections and carry out further consultation with landowners and interested parties including Community Councils.
Once this process has been completed the Council will get the advice of the Argyll & Bute Access Forum, a group of stakeholders including land managers and people who use the paths before making final recommendations on each path. The Council will then pass all of the objections to the Scottish Government Ministers who will appoint a Reporter to conduct a Public Local Inquiry. Once the report into the inquiry is received the Council will adopt the Core Paths Plan which will help to ensure that paths are protected from obstruction and improved when there is development.
Spokesperson for the Environment Councillor Bruce Marshall said “The Council can now only make recommendations to the Core Paths Plan and any proposed changes will be passed to the Scottish Government by March 2012 for a possible Public Local Inquiry. Only once this is concluded can the final plan be adopted by the Council.”