Access blocked to Culbin?

October 10, 2012 · Filed Under Nairn, Nature, Politics, Roads 

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Someone’s made an effort to put up a “Private Road: No vehicle access” sign at Kingsteps, on the small road that leads to the Culbin car park.

The surprise is that anyone is claiming the right to block access to a site served by the Forestry Commission and Highland Council.

Perhaps if whoever put it up is so concerned with the road use, they are going to fill the potholes in front of the car park?

I know some people don’t like to share, but this is taking NIMBY a bit extreme. ;)

A quick Google shows a page from Lancashire Council which covers various definitions of access – with the point that:

Can I fence off a private street to prohibit its use?

Residents often think that as they both own and pay for the upkeep of their road they have a right to obstruct this as they choose. However, it is just as much an offence to obstruct an unadopted highway as any other highway.

Will be interesting to see whether this is an issue that sees further discussion, not least what the owner’s aims and concerns are, and why that includes trying to block access to the Culbin Forest.


10 Responses to “Access blocked to Culbin?”

  1. Chris Mackinnon on October 14th, 2012 11:48 am

    I hope someone has taken that sign down…If not, I will catch it next time I’m home from offshore….I would see the point of someone objecting to people having the use of access to the car park if it was laden with boy racer types, Doggers, criminal gangs etc at all times of day or night but come on, I have run on it, drove on it, even came off my bike on it…at no time have I see streams of cars blocking the road, car park or any-ones access within the area – TAKE YOUR SIGN DOWN AND DONT BE SUCH A ‘BUZZKILLINGTON’

  2. Nicola Franklin on October 17th, 2012 9:20 am

    I have today raised a Freedom of Information request with the Highland Council in respect of the resurfacing of this road a number of years ago. Were checks made at this point as to the ownership of the road and was the resurfacing paid for out of the public purse?
    After contacting the Forestry Commission I have received a reply stating from the Council stating that Mr Alistair Brodie of Brodie has had the signs erected as he has had complaints from Kingsteps and Lochloy residents about the number of users of the car park. He believes he owns the road but at the moment can not substantiate that claim. He is investigating erecting a gate at the top of the road.

  3. Lord Culbin on October 19th, 2012 9:21 am

    they can put up as many signs as they like, they wont stop me using that way into my forest

  4. Brodie on October 22nd, 2012 10:03 am

    I am the owner. I wrote the following letter to the Nairshire Telegraph. I hope it explains matters:

    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,

  5. Brian Turner on October 22nd, 2012 5:47 pm

    Many thanks for the detailed reply, Alexander.

    I doubt many people would object to your concerns about mis-use of the general area, not least for wildfowl shooting and similar.

    However, I find it difficult to accept the claim that the police will not act on a report of gunshots occuring in a car park, public or private.

    If your concern is a general one of illegal activity occuring in the Culbin Forest, then closing that single road will not stop such activity – as you’ve already conceded, there are multiple access points.

    Additionally, you also make clear the point that public money has already been spent tarring the access road and providing amenities such as rubbish bins – something you yourself admit has taken place without any expenditure by yourself.

    In fact, you haven’t actually repaired the car parking area, even though it has obviously been necessary for safe access for vehicles for some years.

    In which case, the legalities of trying to close off a road for which you have enjoyed public investment and maintenance, is going to be an interesting one.

    I’m not sure if you are actually interested in a serious discussion of the matter, though – you take pains to underline your decision to close the road due to:

    – Culbin is claimed to be a hotspot for guncrime, and that closing the road will not stop this,

    – you designate the Parkdean Holiday Park as the “official” car park;

    – and then finish with the claim that anyone who objects should instead put a car park next to their home.

    None of these answers are likely to be acceptable.

  6. Chris Mackinnon on October 22nd, 2012 7:25 pm

    Clan Chief Brodie

    As Mr Turner highlights, why do the police not act on a report of gunshots on ground that can be accessed from various locations along ‘YOUR’ stretch of coastline? this concerns me somewhat.

    As for wild animals out of control, after most of my life in Nairn and living close to ‘YOUR’ beach I must say I have never seen such a thing, even then, driving from Lochloy Road to the former car park would make no difference, If you do still allow access on foot, they will take there pets through regardless so what difference will it make ?

    You will have to come up with something better than this, hopefully Il be home on 13th November, Il be interested to hear what you have to say at the NRCC meeting.

    Take your bee out of your bonnet Sir, also your compromising comment with Liz McDonald is hardly befitting behavior for a Clan Chief…..what has the world come to !!!!!

  7. Gràisg/Des on October 22nd, 2012 7:29 pm

    Thanks also Alistair for writing to the Gurn with your side of the story.
    Hopefully some solutions acceptable to all parties might be possible from the River Community Council meeting?

  8. Gràisg/Des on October 22nd, 2012 7:33 pm

    Opps Alexander not Alistair, apologies.

  9. Claire Brodie on October 27th, 2012 3:51 pm

    Firstly, to point out the obvious, I am a member of Clan Brodie. I have met the Brodie of Brodie on a couple of occasions, so I am confident that he is capable of speaking for himself and will put our (Clan Brodies’) case forward at the meeting admirably. As our Clan Chief, he is responsible for maintaining and preserving our heritage.

    Alexander and I have differing ideas about many things, but one passion we share is the natural environment of Brodie homelands. Clan Brodie can trace back their ancestry in this area and further afield, to Pictish times. We haven’t ousted anyone from this place historically; we have organically grown up and matured in it. The lands around you have always been nurtured by our family and we will continue to do so. Clan Brodie along with other Scottish families have settled right across the world, but our souls are very strongly with you there. History lesson over. In 2014, en masse Clan Brodie will return and we shall be visiting the area and you will see, not only Alexander but a very large number of us are very passionate about our homeland. Not every Brodie is landed gentry, but we are very much concerned that the area remains beautiful and natural. We hope you continue to enjoy it and realise that we wish to keep it available for everyone to enjoy, for walking through the woodlands, down on the beach, with the children, with your dog, horse riding. But common sense and mutual understanding is needed.

    Like him, I do not condone the shooting of waterfowl, particularly when the area has been specifically dedicated to the RSPB and the protection of birds. The two conflict and safety issues have been raised. There must be a solution, an area where shooting can take place away from the RSPB area and woodlands where the public are free to roam. One day there may be an accidental shooting of a person or their pet and this would be devastating and complete unnecessary.

    Keeping your dog under control and ensuring that you clean up any mess. It is practical and much appreciated by everyone else wishing to visit the area. Don’t embarrass your pet by leaving his mess behind. He’ll want to visit the beach in future and forage in the woods, but if you deny him this pleasure by your inertia, he won’t be your best friend.

    Car park area, if other car parks are charging, then perhaps this one should also? I would not expect anyone to agree wholeheartedly on that point, but if the privilege has been abused then I think the time has come for charges to be made and any money raised could go towards repairs of the contentious roadway.

    By raising his sign post, Alexander has now highlighted to one and all, enough is enough. I know that the sign has been “ahem” removed by persons’ unknown, however it has raised these issues and I hope at the meeting these will be discussed and solutions created. I can appreciate that the gate may be contentious also, but if you have a more practical idea, raise it at the meeting. At the end of the day, Clan Brodie and the people who live on the coast there both want the same things.

    I hope that this matter is resolved and that you can all continue to enjoy this fabulous place.

    Looking forward to visiting in 2014, I’ll be the one carrying the pooper scooper, skipping along the sand dunes, avoiding the snipers, BUT hope instead I’ll be chatting to you all and having a relaxing picnic on the beach, when it stops raining.

    Brodies “Unite”

    Best wishes

    Claire Brodie

  10. kildrummie lad on January 13th, 2013 9:56 pm

    While I certainly do not condone the shooting of wildfowl in the kingsteps carpark if this actualy indeed happened. I would however like to raise a few points. Wildfowling between the high spring water mark and below the low water mark is a public right in Scotland. This is not Mr Brodies land it infact to the best of my knowlege belongs to the crown. Nor is it his right to ban such activity. No tresspass laws are also infringed by a wildfowler walking across private land in order to reach the foreshore as long as his gun is in a slip/cover and is not loaded. I am sure the RSPB are fully aware of this. Infact in many parts of the UK the RSPB and wildfowling clubs and organisations such as the BASC have a very healthy working relationship with alot of good conservation work being carried out by both organisations. As far as safty concerns are concerned the vast majority of UK shotgun holders are very safe and responsible people, its is a responsibilty expected by the police on grant of a certificate.

    Apart from personaly not agreeing with the closure of the carpark. I did not want readers to have a tarnished view of wildfowling. Wildfowlers also have a love of the foreshore around nairn and the beautiful wildlife it contains.