Attitudes to walking access in Irish Countryside

Elizabeth Madden

    Research output: Types of ThesisMaster's Thesis


    The use of private lands for public recreation is a highly emotive issue in Ireland at present. Conflict over access rights, disturbance, liability and compensation has resulted in the closure of many sections of the countryside to those wishing to walk, climb, fish or swim. This research examines the attitudes of both the landowners and recreationists towards access to the countryside for walking access. An extensive literature review and a pilot study concluded that the key issue can be surmised into four topics: Disturbance, privacy, liability and compensation. A total of 162 on-site surveys were conducted (n = 85 Landowners, n = 77 Recreationists). The data was supplemented by eight in-depth interviews. Results show that there are many areas of agreement between both groups, access may be restricted (74% Landowners, 88% Recreationists), participants should accept the risks involved (99% Landowners, 100% Recreationists), recreationists should heed dangers (98% Landowners, 100% Recreationists) and that recreation has negative impacts on farmland and on landowners. Differences exist in the data with landowners more aware of the Occupiers’ Liability Act(1995), (P <0.001), landowners want compensation for access (P<0.001), and landowners should be compensated for work to facilitate access(P<0.5). Recreationists are more aware of environmental codes (P<0.001), they think that recreation is positive for their health(P<0.001) and that it is more positive for the local infrastructure. 55% of recreationists are willing to pay a mean fee of €2.24 to guarantee access, while 69% of landowners are willing to accept a mean fee of €6.27 to provide this access. Results show that a proportion of both groups are willing to cooperate and work together towards an accessible countryside to the benefit of both landowners and recreationists. Future collaboration must work towards an accepted level of access throughout the Irish countryside which eases the concerns of landowners and allows sufficient access for recreationists.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Bergin, Jack, Supervisor
    Publication statusSubmitted - 2009


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