New land management rules focused on helping everyone to enjoy the coast and countryside safely and responsibly have been agreed by East Lothian Council’s Cabinet.

Last summer saw record numbers of visitors attracted to the county’s beauty spots. This followed the easing of ‘lockdown’ restrictions in Scotland at a time when fewer people were travelling overseas for holidays. The increase in visits resulted in some challenges associated with traffic issues, parking and camping.

Most of East Lothian’s coastline, which is believed to be Scotland’s busiest in terms of visits per kilometre, is subject to national, European and international designations to protect natural heritage. 

At the Council meeting of 27 October 2020, a Motion was approved which required the development of new policies and approaches to address problems and ensure land available to the public remains accessible, well maintained and is not used irresponsibly.

A consultation on proposed land management rules - to promote the responsible use of countryside, parks, nature reserves and greenspace – was held earlier this year, with 579 responses received.

Norman Hampshire, Cabinet Spokesperson for the Environment, said:

“East Lothian is a wonderful place for local people and visitors to enjoy and explore. In 2020, following the easing of lockdown restrictions, we saw a significant increase in the number of people visiting local beauty spots.

“Although the vast majority of people respect and enjoy the local environment safely and responsibly, there were some challenges which caused concern to communities.

“The new land management rules agreed by Cabinet today will help our teams, including Countryside Rangers, address these challenges for the benefit of everyone who enjoys and appreciates picturesque East Lothian.

Some of the agreed rules include:

  • People using countryside sites, parks, nature reserves or greenspaces shall not wilfully obstruct, interrupt, interfere, impede or otherwise disrupt the enjoyment of other people by, for example, using equipment such as speakers or equipment such as drones if they adversely impact on others.
  • Dogs should not be allowed to enter designated dog-free areas within countryside sites or nature reserves.
  • Only wild camping will be allowed outside designated campsites, with all equipment and accessories requiring to be cleared away. When wild camping, barbecues and fires should be kept under control at all times and should not be lit where vegetation could be burnt or damaged, or when a high risk of fire has been declared.

Anyone who appears to be breaking, or has broken, land management rules can be asked to leave the area. Anyone who has persistently contravened the rules could face an exclusion order.

Separately, the Council will in due course be carrying out a consultation on bye-laws with the aim of implementing additional measures to support the work of Countryside Rangers.

A visitor management review will be carried out looking at potential future provision for campervans and other infrastructure.



Published: Tuesday, 25th May 2021