Gleneagles residents say they are not allowed to walk near Ryder Cup venue

Martyn Clapham
By Martyn Clapham September 25, 2014 10:16

A group of residents living near Gleneagles, host of the Ryder Cup, has said the access bans at the event have been so severe that they are not even allowed to walk on land near the tournament in case they catch a glimpse of one of the holes.

The land at Gleneagles. Image by Tom Jervis

The land at Gleneagles. Image by Tom Jervis

The locals say organisers have put in place far more measures than were used at either the Commonwealth Games earlier this summer or at the G8 summit of world leaders at Gleneagles in 2005.

At the heart of the issue is a special exemption to Scotland’s ‘right to roam’ law, which has been backed by both Perth and Kinross Council and Scottish ministers, and restricts public access to land at Auchterarder, which is near the tournament course and some of the course can be seen from parts of it.

Local people have been barred from using the land since early August, according to the new laws.

“It is ridiculous that the public are being told that they cannot use their statutory rights of access to walk on land well outside the boundaries of the Gleneagles golf course simply because it might provide them with a view of a couple of holes on the Ryder Cup course,” said Dave Morris, the director of Ramblers Scotland.

“The arrangements being put in place at Gleneagles appear to be closer to a Scottish version of Alcatraz.”

Sandra Murray, a retired tourist officer, has walked her dogs on Auchterarder golf course, next to the Ryder Cup course at Gleneagles, for more than 32 years. “I am so annoyed that a golf company can come along and close down so much land for so long,” she told the Sunday Herald.

She pointed out that the G8 summit of world leaders was held at Gleneagles in 2005 without having to close off land at Auchterarder. “They keep saying it’s for safety and security, but I would have thought that presidents and prime ministers were much more of a security risk than a few golfers,” she said.

The land rights campaigner, Andy Wightman, has also criticised the restrictions as a gross overreaction. Auchterarder golf course is common land that belonged to local people, he said. “Commons are for the people and not for corporate elites,” he insisted.

The backers and organisers of the Ryder Cup accepted that it would cause disruption to local residents, but argued that this would be dwarfed by the huge economic benefits it would bring.

“As with any large event of this nature there will always be some disruption to local residents but the long-term tourism and economic benefits will far outweigh the short-term inconvenience,” said a spokesman for tourism agency VisitScotland.


Ryder_Cup_at_the_2008_PGA_Golf_Show

The organisers, Ryder Cup Europe, recalled that there had been similar restrictions at previous events in Wales and Ireland. “Some access restrictions need to be in place to protect the site,” said a spokesman.

According to Perth and Kinross Council, the Ryder Cup is expected to attract 45,000 spectators each day and a TV audience of 600 million in 183 countries. “The closures are necessary to ensure the access to the event is strictly monitored and co-ordinated by the event organisers,” said a council spokeswoman.

The Scottish Government confirmed that it had approved exemptions to access rights “on the grounds of safety and security in order to stage the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles”.

 

Martyn Clapham
By Martyn Clapham September 25, 2014 10:16
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