BY LISA FALCONER
Highland Council this week declined to comment on whether legal action is to be taken against Ledgowan Estate regarding repeated complaints over access issues on the Wester Ross property.
However, Caithness, Sutherland and Ross MSP Rob Gibson told the Free Press he understood “a legal route regarding the incidents at Ledgowan is being sought”. Mr Gibson, who attended a protest walk on the estate in November and has reported Ledgowan to the Land Reform Review Group, added: “I back this firm action.”
There have been ongoing access issues on the estate over the last few years, with members of the public reporting padlocked gates as well as intimidating behaviour from estate employees, and the estate appears regularly on the agenda of the Ross and Cromarty Local Access Forum.
When asked for an update on the situation – and whether legal action was to be taken – a spokesperson for Highland Council said: “Discussions are ongoing. We are not in a position to comment any further at this stage.”
In a widely-publicised incident last October, an elderly couple walking on the estate were accosted by Richard Simpson — son of Ledgowan owner Andrew – who demanded to know what they were doing on the property, taking photographs of the couple and their car.
The estate’s access policy was revealed in the Free Press shortly afterwards. It includes asking for contact details from those walking on Ledgowan, citing security concerns in defence of the heavy-handed approach.
Ramblers Scotland have previously attacked the estate for its “bullying tactics” and “lack of respect” for access laws. The group said: “Ledgowan Estate has been known to us for a number of years, following reports of intimidatory behaviour and obstructions, such as locked gates, on this estate.
“It is frustrating that the behaviour of this one landowner has tied up the local authority and local access forum for countless hours while they have to deal with the many complaints, when they should be free to positively promote access in the area. This particular landowner is refusing to recognise his obligations under the land reform legislation, unlike the vast majority of landowners in Scotland.”
See also: Ledgowan’s “bullying tactics” slammed