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Aberdeenshire Countryside Access Strategy: an evaluation


Aberdeenshire Council developed the Aberdeenshire Countryside Access Strategy to promote a network of public access routes through the countryside. With European funding, the strategy also aimed to protect the environment and enhance the area’s tourism potential. The evaluation aimed to assess: the strategy’s performance against set targets; whether individual partner targets were met; whether the strategy worked well with other strategies in the area; the quantitative and qualitative achievements of the strategy; and the views of local communities, users and landowners.


Relevant documents and data were reviewed. A survey of the site was carried out. Consultations were held with, among others, Aberdeenshire Council, Scottish Enterprise (SE) Grampian, Scottish Natural Heritage, Paths for All and the Forestry Commission. Three hundred beneficiaries and interested parties were surveyed using a postal questionnaire. The design of the overall strategy was evaluated.


Targets which were met fully were: consultation with local communities; preparation of access agreements; production of leaflets; development of an access awareness programme; development of a ranger-led programme of activities; development of a health and safety statement; extension of the countryside access post; development of a visitor monitoring system; and a review of the strategy. Targets which were partly met were: a review of council-owned land; production of a rights-of-way pack; development of a database of access routes (CROW); consultation on and development of disabled facilities and visitor facilities; preparation of access area plans; and the setting up of access working groups.


Several recommendations were made in the areas of strategy, management, design, procurement and maintenance. These included the following: carrying out visitor surveys on a cross-section of projects, in order to monitor use and determine the most popular types of routes; enhancing the effectiveness of the community consultation process by building up a collection of case studies, to show community groups what can be achieved; considering the full range of options available for contract management, and to determine the most cost-effective solutions; considering appointing a consultant outwith the council to undertake the contract management of large, complex projects; and targeting staff time and resources at the development of information resources and management systems for the next phase of the Access Strategy.

Author EKOS Limited; Land Use Consultants
Published Year 2009
Report Type Evaluation
  • Business infrastructure
    Supporting key sectors
  • Equity
    Rural Development, Sustainable development
  • Sectors