What is a Local Access Forum (LAF)?
A local access forum is a group of representatives with a range of interests in access, who come together to discuss how to develop, manage and promote access locally. Generally the LAF includes representatives from:
- Users (eg representing walkers, cyclists, horse riders, people with disabilities and water sports)
- Land managers (eg bodies representing farming, estates and businesses, forestry)
- Public agencies (eg access authority, local enterprise company, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission)
- Community interests (eg representing the community council, local residents' association).
Why are they established?
The LAF will encourage dialogue among these interests about access issues. The functions of the LAF are to provide an advisory and dispute-resolution service for the access authority and others. The Land Reform (Scotland) Act, 2003 (section 25) states that each local authority shall establish a body known as a local access forum.
What are they doing?
Each local forum differs slightly in its membership and aims and objectives. They have generally played a major part in advising over the core paths plan for their area, and may help in advising over local disputes or issues, or helping to promote awareness of access rights and responsibilities.
The Paths for All/Scottish Natural Heritage guide provides advice and examples on how LAFs can work.
How can I find out more about my local access forum?
Your local access officer will know when your local forum meets. Meeting agendas and minutes may appear on your local authority web-site.