Outdoor access in Midlothian

Access dispute - Cairnbank Road Penicuik

In June 2016 the route between Cairnbank Road and Penicuik Estate was blocked by local residents.

Over 100 public complaints have been received over the blocking of the route. There is also a petition signed by local residents wishing the path be re-opened.

In early July 2016 a deputation from Midlothian Access Forum visited the Cairnbank Road area, including the alternative route suggested by the residents. They found the alternative was unsuitable for most users, and discounted it. The deputation noted that the obstruction, painted with anti-vandal paint and a CCTV camera, constituted an impregnable barrier.

At the subsequent Access Forum meeting later in July, two of the residents made a presentation to the members and gave each member a folder with additional information before answering questions.

The Access Forum met in committee in late August to consider all the information they had received, which included – at the time - over seventy letters from members of the public, complaining about the barrier on this well used route into Penicuik Estate.

Thereafter the Access Forum decided to request the Council to take steps to re-open the route.

Since then the Council has been in negotiation with the residents and their lawyers, and made them aware of the advice they had received.

In February 2017, a Section 14 Notice was served on the landowners to remove the obstruction and signage.

The landowners lodged an appeal with the Sheriff Court in March 2017.  This was defended by the Council, and a Proof took place before Sheriff Reith.  The court heard evidence from witnesses on 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 November 2017 and 8, 9, 10, 11 and 29 January 2018, with submissions (where parties present their legal arguments) heard between 18 and 22 June 2018.

On 6 September 2018, the judgement in the case was published (PDF).  A further hearing was held on 4 October, which dealt with ancillary matters.

On 22 October 2018, the landowners lodged an appeal with the Sheriff Court Appeal court, seeking to overturn the Sheriff’s judgement of 6 September 2018. A procedural hearing was fixed for 21 January 2019 but was eventually cancelled.

The court action to have the Cairnbank access path has now nearly concluded and the path has re-opened. The gate is currently unlocked and the public may once again take reasonable access across the path. It is anticipated the owners of the path will remove all obstacles by 31 January 2019.

We will update in due course.

23 January 2019