Access denied to walkers at Balmashanner

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A FENCE is restricting access for walkers at Balmashanner, it has been claimed.

The recently erected fence is situated south of Balmashanner hill housing estate, at the top of the Northampton Road, and is blocking access to the general public.

It restricts access for the public to cross the field from the top of the Northampton Road to the Balmashanner path network.

It is claimed that the farmer who has leased the field from the owner has now locked the transportation gate and pedestrian gate with his own padlocks, denying access for the general public.

Nan Hargreaves, a resident for the past 16 years, wrote to the Forfar Dispatch appealing to members of the public for evidence of the path’s use in the last 20 years, as she believes the path should be considered a right of way.

This is because in Scotland, a right of way is defined as any route over which the public has been able to pass unhindered for at least 20 years.

The route must link two ‘public places’ such as villages, churches or roads, for example.

She said: “I am currently in correspondence with Angus Council’s Countryside Access Officer with regards the recent fence erection in the field. It now restricts access for the general public to cross the field, with or without their pets. I have been a resident here for the past 16 years and I have used the path referred to during that period.”

Angus Council said they were unclear whether the route had been used for the past 20 years which is necessary in order to create a public right of way in Scotland.

A spokesperson for the local authority said: “The council is aware of the situation, having received a number of enquiries from members of the public.

“A worn route appears to have become established across the fields in question, due to use by the public. It is unclear whether this route has been used for the 20-year period necessary for a public right of way to have been created. We are investigating the matter.”

The Dispatch spoke to the farmer currently leasing the field for his ewes and lambs on Sunday at the site. He was unwilling to go on record or to provide details of the current landowner.

The main gate into the field is clearly padlocked, as is the side gate which walkers have used in the past. A note on the fence post, erected by the fencing contractor, advises walkers the field would be fenced off completely on March 1.

It reads: “As the fencing contractor I would be most obliged if you could resist climbing over the fence as Ryloch net should not be climbed on. I trust you can find another route as I do understand the route being blocked will cause inconvenience.”