Pub tycoon hit by new fences ban

A PUB tycoon embroiled in a legal battle over access to his £55 million golfing complex has been hit with a fresh court order banning him from erecting more fences.

Bosses at East Lothian Council have been granted an interdict to prevent millionaire Kevin Doyle from putting up new fencing and chopping down trees at Archerfield Estate, near Dirleton.

The move comes as Mr Doyle prepares to defend his right to create a "gated community" at the luxury estate in a court case, which starts in Haddington tomorrow.

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The case is set to be the first legal test of new right-to-roam legislation in Scotland.

Caledonian Heritable, which is run by Mr Doyle and owns the Archerfield estate, sparked fury among ramblers and residents after installing a 6ft barbed wire fence around the land, cutting off access to the beach.

The city businessman decided to appeal an earlier legal bid by the local authority to force him to remove the fence.

The company has since removed that controversial enclosure, but council officials discovered that a second fence was being built in the same eastern section of the estate.

The new interdict was today welcomed by campaigners who were fighting for rights of access.

Helen Todd, campaign officer with Ramblers' Association Scotland, said: "Archerfield has now become the major test case in Scotland of our new land reform legislation.

"East Lothian Council deserves full support for their determined efforts to secure the public interest in the face of a developer who appears to regard the access rights of local people and visitors with contempt.

"We need the Sheriff Court to make clear to this developer, once and for all, that statutory access rights apply to all the woodland, grassland and golf course areas within Archerfield.

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"Only the clubhouse grounds, houses and gardens lie outwith the new rights."

A spokesman for East Lothian Council today confirmed the interdict had been served. He added that a second court case over the new fencing was possible.

Last October, Caledonian Heritable defied a legal notice from East Lothian Council ordering them to remove fences which blocked public access.

Instead, the firm lodged an appeal against the order which is due to be heard at Haddington Sheriff Court tomorrow.

His lawyers will contest the council's demands made under the Land Reform Act, which was passed by the Scottish Executive eight months ago.

Mr Doyle, who owns a string of pubs in the Capital including Ryan's Bar, the Theatre Royal and the Dome, has previously indicated he was prepared to take the matter to the European court if necessary.

But campaigners slammed his chances of victory as they looked forward to winning the case.

Council chiefs served a legal order under the Act last year after negotiations between the two parties broke down.

Work is ongoing at the Gleneagles-style estate redevelopment, with two 18-hole golf courses, a five-star hotel, 50 holiday cottages and 100 luxury homes planned.