Many thanks for printing the letter last week updating readers on the parking situation in Hopes Estate.

I was looking forward to walking up there with my children now that work has completed on the new car park, so I am deeply saddened by the behaviour of landowner Robbie Douglas-Miller.

I genuinely hoped he was planning on improving parking so that more people could enjoy the terrific walks in the area, but limiting access to 12 permit holders a month seems like an attempt at turning a public road into a private one.

The residents of Hopes Estate will always be welcome to use the public roads in our towns to park, shop and visit as they please. It seems very unfair that we should no longer be able to use a road that we pay for to access the hills.

I noticed a picture on Facebook, taken on a sunny Sunday when people would normally be out enjoying a walk around the reservoir, but only one car seems to be using the car park.

As East Lothian grows, we should be utilising as much of our outdoor space as possible to help our population exercise and take pressure off coastlines and popular woodland areas. The Lammermuir Hills are underused for recreation and have a superb network of paths, but woefully inadequate parking.

Overriding everything in the letter you printed is the Scottish Governments Land Reform Act of 2016, which clearly states the Right for Responsible Access in Scotland.

1. The overall framework of land rights, responsibilities and public policies should promote, fulfil and respect relevant human rights in relation to land, contribute to public interest and wellbeing, and balance public and private interests. The framework should support sustainable economic development, protect and enhance the environment, help achieve social justice and build a fairer society.

2. There should be a more diverse pattern of land ownership and tenure, with more opportunities for citizens to own, lease and have access to land.

The landowner’s decision to heavily restrict parking prejudices families, those with disabilities and groups who take people walking in the hills and need an access point. I understand that during the last year, the countryside has suffered littering, fires and irresponsible parking, but to punish responsible visitors because of the behaviour of a minority is a knee-jerk reaction and will only create animosity towards the estate at a time when public opinion is turning against grouse shooting. Instead, the landowner should be working with local residents, East Lothian Council and interested parties to help improve access and educate visitors on how to visit responsibly.

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