SCOTLAND'S children should be taught The Countryside Code as part of the school curriculum.

This idea is one of five key policy asks to emerge from the first Rural Workers’ Protest, an online event that united gamekeepers, shepherds, river ghillies, rural vets, farmers and foresters in a call for better representation at Holyrood.

Among the bugbears aired by the protest was the feeling that, after granting the public greater countryside access, politicians had abandoned land and river managers to cope with access abuses such as fly-tipping, wildfires, out of control dogs and people unaware of key livestock and wildlife breeding seasons.

For the long term, educating Scottish children in the key messages of the Countryside Code would help to match their access rights with responsibilities – and the organisers of the protest reckon that the idea is already gaining political support ahead of the next Scottish Parliament.

Scottish Gamekeepers Association chairman, Alex Hogg, said: “Having the Code embedded in schools would go a long way to making the countryside better for all. In lockdown we saw the two sides of access. We saw the benefits to peoples’ mental and physical health of getting into the countryside and enjoying nature but we also saw the problems for people whose workplaces are the countryside.

“In the short term, some of the particular localised issues are being dealt with but, in general, developing that sense of respect in all of our children would be a good legacy from our protest and we hope it will be taken forward in the next Parliament.”

The protest organisers also wrote to the First Minister and leaders of the current political parties seeking better representation in Holyrood for the practical knowledge of rural workers.

Lianne MacLennan of co-organisers Scotland’s regional moorland groups said: “Traditional rural workers have vast skills and knowledge, often built up over many years on river and land. Holyrood should be for them, equally, and not weighted in favour of those with letters after their name and lobbying consultants.”