Monday, October 22, 2012

"No Vehicle Access" at Kingsteps - Alexander Brodie tells his side of the story

Alexander Brodie has written a letter to the Gurn outling his position concerning the No Access sign at Kingsteps

Dear Sir,

I refer to your article about the “Private Road: No Vehicle Access” sign at Kingsteps. I would like to clarify the situation and inform of the reasons that the private track owned by Brodie estates has been closed to vehicles.

There are several reasons I am closing the road to vehicles. Over the years Brodie Estates has received complaints from local residents. These complaints include dog walkers who have failed to control their animals, dog fowling, overnight parking, loud music and other disturbances at night, vehicles blocking access, and people trespassing on residential properties. I have been notified that hunters are using my road and the parking to shoot wildfowl. I own Culbin sands and its shootings rights, I rent these to the RSPB on the condition that shooting is not allowed. I abhor wildfowl shooting and will not tolerate guns being used or crossing my land for this purpose. Shooting of wildfowl has even taken place in the car park. When residents complain to the police about the shooting or other infraction they are informed that officers can not intervene as the property is private. Yet when I complain to the police they inform me that the property has many sign posts and rubbish bins and other indications that it is public, that they can not intervene to uphold the rights of private property is such circumstances.

The problems have been steadily getting worse. Since the council tarred the road the number of vehicle users has increased. Since the Forestry Commission has started charging for parking at its own car parks, these numbers have reached unreasonable proportions. With this increased usage, complaints to Brodie estates have grown.

The solution was to place a sign post clearly indicating the property to be private. The purpose was to discourage access by vehicle and clarify the situation for police intervention from complaints. The first thing I did upon erecting the sign was visit Nairn police station and enquire if it was now possible for them to intervene. They informed that the situation was too complex, that the council signs and facilities indicated one thing, my sign post another. According, I wrote to the Council asking that they remove all their signposts and rubbish bins. They have removed the rubbish bins but not as yet the sign posts. My sign post was not meant to prevent access - it was not a barrier. Its purpose was to discourage, reduce numbers and allow complaints to be handled by the authorities. Naturally, if drivers trespassed but were respectful of the neighbourhood, kept their dogs on leads, removed fowling, and they did not carry or use guns, block accesses, walk into peoples gardens or stay after nightfall there would be no cause for complaint. Brodie estates and the residents could have looked the other way. But the sign post would have given teeth to tackling any violation, to allow redress for any problem visitors.

In the wake of the extraordinarily irresponsible calls by counsellors at Nairn River Community Council this situation has changed. I read in disbelief as representatives called openly on the public to disrespect my right to private property. To ignore my sign. With the Provost using the internet to “tweet” comments on the vandalism of my sign, such as “What's worse putting up a sign to stop access to Kingsteps car park or painting it out?”, it was only a matter of time before the sign was irrevocably damaged. It is without surprises that I have noticed the sign has now been removed and stolen. With such public calls, no doubt the perpetrators felt like they had been acting with the authorities blessing. It now seems pointless to erect another sign. It would be disrespected and vandalised. According, I have been forced into the option of a gate. I have ordered a specific gate that allows access to pedestrians, horses and none motorised bikes, while denying vehicles. This gate is being custom built and shipped and will not be up until at least a month.

Access is closed only to cars (not walkers, riders or none motorised bicycles). For the users with cars there is a proper official parking next door, closer to Nairn, larger, right by the sea, and with better facilities. Both the Forestry Commission and the RSPB do not promote the parking at Kingsteps, rather they prefer visitors use the official parking at East Beach.

The Brodies of Brodie have managed the Culbin sands for countless generations. We have continuously tried to preserve this coast line and have never publicly sought credit. We have always sat in the background letting others enjoy it. We are very proud of our beach and are trying to preserve it from development. To keep it natural, full of wildlife and beautiful. It was never my intention to stop access. I have always wanted others can see and enjoy my property. Pedestrians and horses are still permitted down my roads and tracks and on my beach. All I ask is that drivers park at the official East Beach car park.

If Provost Liz McDonald believes that this is unsatisfactory, I am prepared to offer a compromise. I have been informed Provost Macdonald lives near Kingsteps, at Drumbeg. I am familiar with this area, it used to be Brodie estate holdings. I own Kingsteps Wood below Drumbeg that borders her property and my beach. If she doesn't mind car parks, unlike residents at Kingsteps, I propos that she builds a public car park by her house and I clear access from this to the beach.

I have been invited to attend the Nairn River Community Council of the 13th November at 19.30 in the Nairn Arts and Community Centre. I hope to answer any further questions there.

Yours faithfully,

Alexander Brodie of Brodie,
Brodie Estates Office,


Bob said...

Understandable and hard not to disagree with his explanation and decision.
However, as the taxpayer paid for the road to be surfaced and on the understanding it was surfaced for motor vehicles, might the taxpayer look forward to Mr Brodie refunding us for our investment in his road?

Anonymous said...

One -nil Brodie

Provost Liz said...

I wonder has Alexander Brodie consulted with the 2 households who will be affected about putting in a permanent gate. Will they need to unlock and relock whenever they wish to leave their homes? Will he be providing a lay-by at the top of the road for their bins, as a lorry would not be able to get down either. What if there is a need for emergency vehicles to access their homes or if there is an accident at the beach? I'm looking forward to meeting Alexander at the community council and I hope these questions will be answered.

MacRath of Kintail said...

When people talk of land ownership they talk of a deed of title that to it that has their name. But the land is not owned by anybody the land was here before people to it came. Millions of years before the birth of the first human the land we live on it was here. The land will be around forever and i may not be living next year. Land has caused bloodshed,sorrow and suffering and millions fighting for it have died. But the land can exist without us is a fact that cannot be denied. The land is Nature and our Earth Mother and to the land we do belong and those who talk about land ownership in reality have got it wrong. You can will the deed of your home and land to your Son or Daughter but as we know facts never lie. And the facts say that we are mere mortals and all mortals are born to die the land in fact is our Earth Mother and we must return to her one day. And how can we own what we belong to do you get what iam trying to say of the land we are only tenants that may seem hard to understand for we cannot own what we belong to and we do belong to the land.

Anonymous said...

" Show the people that our Old Noblity is not noble, that its lands are stolen lands – stolen either by force or fraud; show people that the title-deeds are rapine, murder, massacre, cheating, or Court harlotry; dissolve the halo of divinity that surrounds hereditary title; let the people clearly understand that our present House of Lords is composed largely of descendants of successful pirates and rogues; do these things and you shatter the Romance that keeps the nation numb and spellbound while privilege pricks its pocket".
Tom Johnston, Secretary of State for Scotland
From Our Scots Noble Families, 1909

Chumley Warner said...

Mr Brodie has now earned a new title "Alexander the Gate" ones now very much looking forward to the community council meeting where me thinks the shit will hit the fan on the ceiling, so to those who wish to attend the meeting may i be so bold and offer some advice wear your old clothes with suitable protective headgear & it might not be a bad idea to bring along a a scented aerosol as there will be an almighty stink.

toff of toff said...

First time I've heard of the Police not being able to enter or apply the law to land that's private property.

And is Mr Brodie still Brodie of Brodie? I thought the pile now belonged to the National Trust of Scotland?

Crown Estates own the foreshore up to the tide line

I can only thanks Ninian Brodie of Brodie for all the years he freely gave the folk of Nairn access to the Kingsteps car park

walker said...

"For the users with cars there is a proper official parking next door, closer to Nairn, larger, right by the sea, and with better facilities"

Yes but aren't the council thinking of selling all or part of this car park to the caravan site?

Anonymous said...

Walker, I believe the area you mention may be Common Good Land and it would be unlikely that the Highland Council would be in the position to sell it off to the current occupiers of the caravan site. The caravan site is not owned by Parkdean, they lease it from the Council.

jayteescot1 said...

Having retrieved two injured and badly shot geese from the river in recent years, I share his abhorrence at shooting wildfowl.
It's time shooters used clay pigeons instead.

Min said...

Although I now live in NZ, Nairn was and always will be my home. Having lived for a few years by a seaside public reserve I understand Brodie's comments completely.
We got a gate erected and only pedestrian access and the similiar problems disappeared overnight. The peace of mind it gave the residents was worth the inconvenience of opening and shutting the gate. There was no problems with emergency and other services. What are the gun laws? In NZ the described type of behaviour during wild fowl season carries very harsh penalties.
Hope the problem sorts out. hoping to get home next year.
Minnie Davidson

Anonymous said...

Jack Jones says:

Well said Mr Brodie - them so called community vigilanties - sorry ! "councillors" just "dont like it up them"

I own my own postage stamp sized property - and I would not like the issues on my property that you seem to be expected to put up with despite such freedom of access.

This is all about respect, for the property, the nature, the surroundings, the owner, if people cant see that then stuff em!

Get that gate up and some CCTV as well - get the culprits that are abusing the property - then see what the bobbies have to say for themselves then.

"were all doomed"

Anonymous said...

There is too much reliance on car parking, well done Mr Brodie for this attempt to keep vehicles out of an area of natural beauty.

7:84 said...

Mr Brodie's reasons for attempting to close the road may well be legitimate, but if he erects a gate that allows access by foot then several of the problems he highlights as the reason for attempted closure of vehicular access are nul and void, dog fouling for example

Unless he has recently come into a great deal of money and is able to build a large wall around 'his' property, then closure of the Kingsteps car park is a futile as trying to block a sieve by covering one hole. People will still access 'his' land as they have a right to do so

In recent years we have seen an enlightened attitude by many of the few landowners who own great tracts of 'our' land in Scotland, it's a pity that Mr Brodie doesn't seem to be party to those views, and wishes by signs and the threat of a gate to continue to try and immerse us in a more feudal attitude

Anonymous said...

As a local horse rider and cyclist I am pleased that Mr Brodie is still allowing access to those who do not wish to drive to the Kingsteps beach, I have had several near misses over the years with drivers who seem to think it is their right to drive recklessly on what is a very narrow road without thought and care to others who wish to enjoy this lovely area. One plea though, please can the dog fouling bins remain, some of us do use them despite the appaling mess left by other dog owners which seems to suggest otherwise. Dog fouling presents a very real health risk to people esp young children and everything should be done to encourage owners to clean up after their pets.

Anonymous said...

"My beach", says it all, I thought nobody owns a beach between high and low water marks or it's Crown Estate.

D.Ross said...

I do wish people would understand the law of their own country!

1. The Crown Estate owns the seabed and the foreshore (unless it has granted/leased it out).
2. The foreshore extends up to the high water mark only!
3. There is still a lot of “beach” between the high water mark and the “land”.
4. So Mr Alexander Brodie of Brodie can legitimately own land down to the high watermark which includes “beach”!
5. We have no law of trespass in Scotland, BUT we do have the Land Reform Act 2003 which states the following:
Section 9, Conduct excluded from access rights
Subsection C, hunting, shooting, fishing
Subsection D, being on or crossing land while responsible for a dog or other animal which is not under proper control.

6. So considering the abuse/misuse that he states is going on then he has every right to try to stop people from continuing to do so on his land!
7. There are other paths, carparks etc to gain access to the “beach” and to Culbin.

Brodie of Brodie is a clan title, so even if he no longer owns the Castle the title is a separate entity as it pertains to the Clan Brodie

I hope this clears things up!

Anonymous said...

How are the disabled meant to get over a gate and if Brodie has moved the doggy bins where are the walkers meant to deposit the doggy doos.

Anonymous said...

Gaun yerself Mr B!

Anonymous said...

What is it with this town and car parks ? And why not use the car park at the end of the caravan park which i use myself.Dont back down Mr brodie make them walk the extra 5 minutes as that is all it is.This town cant cope cant cope when something is changed as they are so set in there old ways !.

NED said...


"I do wish people would understand the law of their own country!"

Well we can't all be as smart as you. Might have said 'thank you' for your contribution but for your opening sentence!

Anonymous said...

Seems Mr Brodie has quite a lot of support. Ihope some will turn up for the coming meeting!

Anonymous said...

'My beach, my beach, my beach' - no its not! As others have said all of the foreshore below high water springs belongs to the Crown Estate - who notwithstanding other agreements confer a RIGHT to pursue wildfowl on that foreshore.

I have been using this access on and off for thirty years for wildfowling - before there were any dwellings there (only the fishers howf) and before Mr Brodie was borne, albeit and admittedly not on a regular basis.

Entirely apart from anything else that gives me a PRESCRIPTIVE RIGHT to use such access, along with the many others who do the same.

Facile remote-control nimbyism of the type displayed by Mr Brodie unfortunately raises a very red mist with me.

Anonymous said...

“I just want to keep this area natural,” he told The Inverness Courier. “People are building golf courses everywhere and things like that, but I do not want to do that. This is a wholly wild, natural area and it is really beautiful. It is really something that I am quite proud of and we are desperate to preserve it.”


If not a golf course what could be built?

Anonymous said...

The sprawling Culbin Forest, immediately to the east of the Lochloy caravan site, is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Culbin Sands is a recognised nature reserve of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). An area of outstanding natural beauty, Culbin is a unique landscape of sand bars, mud flats, salt marshes, sand dunes and coniferous forest.

Anonymous said...

Culbin Sands

This long strip of pristine beach is owned by the RSPB[3], due to its excellent bird habitat, home to oystercatchers, curlews, redshanks and other birds. It is made up of a curious mixture of sand and long grass, but gets muddier further westwards. A lot of natural driftwood such as logs and shells ends up on the sands. The bank of dunes separates the forest quite suddenly from the flat beach.

The OS Grid Reference for Wellhill is NH997615.

Surely what everyone needs are the facts: from Lochloy to Findhorn; who owns what exactly? How much land does Clan Brodie, the Forestry Commission, the RSPB and anyone else for that matter own and where on the map is it and how is it protected?

Mine, mine, mine said...

@Anon 8:00am

Car parks is the answer. He's offered to build one near to Liz's property which negates much of his argument against the Kingsteps one

It seems that having lost his battle with the National Trust of Scotland he nows wants to engage with Nairnites and flex his authority over 'his' lands

Seems like more money to the legal eagles if you ask me

right of access said...

I wonder if Kingsteps is just the start and if other car parks will also receive his attention? I'm thinking here of the ones in the Culbin which as far as I know are run by the Forestry Commission but no doubt could draw a similar list of objections by Mr Brodie to the one at Kingsteps

Anonymous said...

Should someone who sees a red mist be in possession of a gun in the first place ?

D.Ross said...

To Anonymous 6:16AM

Mr A. Brodie of Brodie CAN say “My beach”………….there is a LOT of beach, sand, dunes etc above the high water mark!

As far as “I’ve being doing it on & off for thirty years and have a Prescriptive right”.
Laws can change and your rights under them do as well!!

You can still legally shoot wildfowl between the low and high water marks in season as per the BASC code and the Land Reform Act.
BUT…... The public right may, in certain cases, be TAKEN AWAY by statute, e.g. NATURE RESERVES!!

Also as I mentioned before you have NO access right over privately owned property (and it could be argued publicly owed as well) under Section 9, CONDUCT EXCLUDED FROM ACCESS RIGHTS
Subsection C, HUNTING, SHOOTING, fishing.

So Mr. A Brodie of Brodie CAN stop you from using his land to gain access to the foreshore EVEN IF you claim PESCRIPTIVE RIGHT, as a Sheriff/the law will not grant you a Prescriptive right to commit an illegal act under another law. So the Land Reform Act will supersede your prescriptive right to walk across his land to wildfowl unless you have personal permission from him!

The Forestry Commission owns most of the land as it was Culbin estate and belonged to the Laird of Culbin. Mr. A. Brodie of Brodie is a neighbour and his land (originally Clan Brodie) abuts the Culbin land. Various parts of the lands owned by both the Forresty Commision and Mr. A. Brodie of Brodie are designated by the SNH as an SPA, SSSI, & RAMSAR, and designated by the RSPB as a reserve.

Linky below

No wonder you want to remain “anonymous” as you shoot wildfowl in such a special area!!

Considering all the “abuse/misuse” of the land by certain individuals and the protected status of the area no wonder Mr. A. Brodie of Brodie wants to erect a gate to try to stop some of it!

Again I hope this informs you!

Anonymous said...

So about the road. I came across this explaining the situation in England, does anyone know of where to find a similarly clear explanation of the situation in Scotland?

'Public rights of way usually go over land in private ownership. However, the council, as highway authority, is responsible for maintaining the full width of the surface of the right of way.

The council, landowners and users of the public rights of way all have responsibilities which contribute to keeping routes safe and accessible at all times.

"What are my responsibilities as a landowner for public rights of way which cross my land?"

'As a landowner you are responsible for ensuring that path users are able to use any public right of way which crosses your land at any time without obstruction or any form of intimidation.'

New gates and fencelines

'Landowners' responsibilities in relation to gates and fencelines are based on the requirement to keep the rights of way as accessible as possible to all at all times. In particular you should be aware that:

Before erecting any new fencelines across a public right of way, you must seek permission from the Highway Authority

'We do not permit stiles under any circumstances

Once permission is granted a gate may be installed

Permission for fencing will only be granted if the fencing is to control livestock

APTSec said...

It seems that the agencies themselves are worried about bikes, dogs, horses etc re, the 'Nairn Bar'.

Readers should take note of The Highland Council, Interim Supplementary Guidance, Version 6 – 24 June 2011, Habitats Regulations Appraisal, 7. Nairn Bar, page 31

...Kingsteps is a popular car parking area and is accessed easily from the population centre at Nairn. The Coastal Trail’s promotion (signposting and web-based material) is estimated to result in around 10% more users. If the majority of these users are directed to the Kingsteps area then this could risk greater disturbance to roosts and feeding areas closest to Nairn. Responsible behaviour and discouraging increased use of the Kingsteps access is what Forestry
Commission and RSPB have been working on by actively promoting alternative access points to Culbin Forest and the coast. The Explore Culbin project recently installed improved visitor facilities at sites within Moray aiming to draw more visitors to areas where access can be enjoyed safely and responsibly. Highland Council could support this approach within Highland by not actively promoting or encouraging increased access to Kingsteps. This could be done through control of the number of car parking bays at the Kingsteps car park but also Nairn’s East Beach car park. This would help ensure numbers reaching coastal areas should not cause a significant problem of disturbance or damage to habitats...

Mitigation including installation of people, bike and horse counters see page 32.

Anonymous said...

Scottish Rights of Way & Access Society

Safeguarding access to the Scottish countryside for all

Telephone/Fax: 0131 558 1222

'Rights of way'

'Statutory Access Rights'

Graisg said...

@ APT - "Highland Council could support this approach within Highland by not actively promoting or encouraging increased access to Kingsteps."

"could",mmmm, well if they did then I suppose the strategy of discouraging the use of Kingsteps lies in tatters with the introduction of parking charges in the Culbin.

Beach Bum said...

It's clear that a lot of people claim rights of access and parking in order then to pursue various activities (whether shooting fowl, protecting birds, or just walking around) on this particular area of land.

Looks unlikely that everyone's differing aims and aspirations can be met.

Surely the answer is for the authorities to do what they have done on almost every other site in and around Nairn: arrange for the Culbin Sands beach area to be sold off to a developer on condition that affordable housing is built there. After all, it seems the people of Nairn believe that providing more affordable housing is more important than anything else.

Any housing built there would have wonderful views, the access road and parking is already there - and the occupants would have an aristocrat and the Provost as nearby neighbours. What's not to like?

Graisg said...

@ssupplv I think your comment might be more than a little impolite so will not post it.
The extent of the complaints may become evident at the CC meeting however.

B and B said...

What Mr B&B needs to do is interest Donald Trump in his land, I can see it now 'the Culbin Sands Golf Course'.

It has all the right qualifications. A site of special scientific interest, a long sand dune, a place of great natural beauty, etc And I'm sure if the figure of say 6,000 jobs were promised our First Minister would once again open the gates of Scotland wide to allow the Trump Trojan horse to gain free access

A more modest plan might be to allow the good folk of Nairn to continue to have unhindered access to the car park at Kingsteps, too much to ask for?

Anonymous said...

I first mentioned that the foreshore i.e. between low and high water marks is not owned and there was a 'moot' comment made that there is an awful lot of beach between the high water mark and say for instance the forest wood line. No, to clarify most people think of the beach as between the dunes and the sea, which lies between the low and high water marks and hence a public right to roam. In actual fact if you look at an OS map, the mean high spring tide lines extend up to the marsh land...hardly 'the beach'. In essence, it is not his beach.

In Scotland you have rights to walk, as long as you don't obstruct\damage or otherwise hinder boundaries and so forth. That does not include vehicle access. Take Lochindorb, the landowner cannot stop people walking on any of that landscape.

Graisg said...

It would be nice to think that something positive could come out of the River CC meeting on the 13th of November.
In the meantime the Courier returns to the subject today and seems to gently point a finger at Highland Council:
"The ongoing sage of a clan chief's wrangle with community leaders over an access road has taken a new twist
Despite Highland Council spending thousands of pounds tarring the controversial stretch. It admitted that it had never taken ownership of it."

and futher into the article. Yours for 85p in a newsagents today

" "Our legal team is still on the case over the access road at Kingsteps as some issues still need to be clarified," said a council spokeswoman."

Anonymous said...

[...]There ARE misbehaving dog owners who leave dog mess in place, but I've never encountered gun-toting fowlers. I loathe the thought of people shooting wild birds, but it hardly figures in my experience of the Kingsteps access to Culbin. I was there this afternoon and there were many people enjoying the whole area, none with guns, many with dogs and all deprived of dog bins because the Council has taken them away. [...]

@ anon Your comment has been edited. If you have such specific knowledge of abusive behaviour and dangerous driving then you should go to the police.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure whether Alexander Brodie has proved ownership of this road. If however, he has proved ownership then why did the council fund the resurfacing of this road without a legally binding access guarantee from Mr Brodie.
This whole episode is a sham when the resurfacing was funded from the public purse.
If Mr Brodie wants to erect a gate that is his perogative but I would expect the Council to begin reclaiming the costs of the resurfacing of the road. Also, as I understand it, council waste collectionn trucks will not drive down private driveways to collect bins. The residents of that area will have to bring their bins to the top of the driveway.
I would hope that Mr Brodie hasn't heard the last of this from the Council and our council don't bow to arrogant behaviour.

winged said...

If folk really cared about wild birds then they wouldn't let their dogs off their leads to chase the birds as many do. Many dog owners seem to find this perfectly acceptable behaviour particularly in this area. Our wild birds have as much right as any other animal to be left in peace and not harassed and threatened in this way

D.Ross said...

I have just been doing some double checking with the RSPB re the shooting laws and the Land Reform Act with regards to their reserve at Culbin.

They still allow wildfowl shooting between the high and low water marks, in season, as per the BASC code of practice, ON their reserve!!!!!

So although Culbin and the foreshore is designated by the SNH as an SPA, SSSI, & RAMSAR, and designated by the RSPB as a reserve……….

…….and so long as you follow the BASC rules, you can blow the hell out of the wildlife!!!!

This country is bloody stupid………..I really despair sometimes!!!

Graisg said...

@ Basil, thanks for that, it raised a smile on this obeservers' face. If published however it might mean that the argument going down a cul-de-sac re childish behaviour etc.