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Charities and campaigners unite to fight ongoing closure of 200-year-old path

This news post is 8 months old

Public meeting sparks petition to reopen Edinburgh’s Radical Road.

Campaigners have launched an urgent petition calling on Historic Environment Scotland (HES) to reopen Edinburgh’s Radical Road path, following a packed public meeting in the capital.

HES shut the iconic 200-year-old path in September 2018 due to concerns about rockfall. It is one of the most popular ways up Arthur’s Seat, yet it remains blocked by ugly fencing five years on.

More than 100 people - including Lothian MSP Sarah Boyack and local councillor Steve Burgess - attended a meeting at Greyfriars Charteris Centre in Edinburgh on Sunday to discuss how to encourage HES to reconsider. HES bosses were invited but failed to attend.

Delegates agreed to launch the fortnight-long petition, which is backed by Ramblers Scotland, Cockburn Association, Edinburgh Geological Society, Mountaineering Scotland and ScotWays.

Campaigners will submit the petition on Tuesday December 19 - the date when HES closes its ongoing public consultation about the future management of the entire Holyrood Park area. Worryingly, HES’s consultation documents completely ignore the future of the Radical Road.

Ramblers Scotland director Brendan Paddy said: “Our meeting featured a wide range of voices calling on Historic Environment Scotland to urgently reconsider its farcical closure of the Radical Road, following half a decade of its missed deadlines and broken promises.

"I urge the public to sign our petition before 19 December so that we can stand up for public access at this much-loved historic path. Residents and tourists should be advised of the risks then allowed to make informed decisions, like everywhere else in Scotland.”

As well as being loved by walkers and runners, the Radical Road is also hugely important to boulderers seeking to climb on Salisbury Crags, geologists visiting world-famous sites and tourists wanting panoramic views of the city.

ScotWays chief operating officer Richard Barron said: “One government department managed to reopen the A83 within three weeks of a major landslip, yet another can’t reopen the Radical Road within five years of a rock fall.  

“It’s high time that the proper effort was put into getting this historic Edinburgh route reopened for people to appreciate once again.”

HES’s own risk assessment of the Radical Road fails to mention that outdoor recreation is enjoyed at people’s own risk across Scotland every single day, by thousands of people. This includes popular sites where signage is used to advise of risks such as cliffs, tides or forestry and farming.

Campaigners want to encourage HES to weigh the low risk of rockfall injury against the harm the closure causes to the economy, landscape, tourism and people’s health and wellbeing.

Sunday’s public meeting was chaired by well-known Scottish journalist Rob Edwards. The campaigning organisations gave presentations on what the Radical Road means to them, with their leaders answering questions and listening to suggestions from attendees. 

The Cockburn Association assistant director James Garry said: “Holyrood Park is one of the city’s premier greenspaces and is of great value to residents and stakeholders alike as an ecological, historical, recreational and wellbeing resource in the heart of the city. The Radical Road and the wider path network are essential parts of the value of the park. A pragmatic solution to the current restrictions on the Radical Road is imperative.”