About Holyrood Park
Holyrood Park is owned by Scottish Ministers, managed by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) as a property in care, regulated by The Holyrood Park Regulations 1971 (as amended) and protected as a Scheduled Ancient Monument under the terms of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.
The park is also an Inventory Garden and Designed Landscape under the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 as amended and a Special Site of Scientific Interest (x2) under the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004.
The park is an important asset for Edinburgh, and for Scotland.
Managing natural rock safety
Decay is a natural process and the natural rock in the park is particularly prone to failure - managing the public safety aspects of this have been a long term challenge. This has been accelerated by the changes in our climate since the 1960’s and the risk of serious injury or death has increased.
As part of our ongoing rock safety programme nationally, our specialist geotechnical engineers have identified areas where the rock stability posed an unacceptable risk to the public.
HES has a statutory obligation to manage this risk and unfortunately this has meant restricting access in certain areas for now. Further assessment and consideration of what is technically feasible and desirable have followed. The scale of the issue, set against changing environmental conditions and the designated status of the park, require careful consideration.
Duddingston Low Road
Following a rockfall onto the park’s Duddingston Low Road in June this year, our engineers advised that the rock slopes in this area required to be reassessed. The road was closed due to the risk of harm to members of the public. With our geotechnical engineers we reviewed the most effective options to re-facilitate public access and we now plan to move ahead with a range of work, including fitting catch fences along the face of the rock slopes at both high and low level.
These measures will adequately mitigate the current risk at the rock slopes in this area and enable us to provide access. Following this, rock slope management with geotechnical engineers will continue with regular inspection and assessment.
We have already started this process, moving to secure the granting of statutory consent, given the park’s status as both a Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SM), and to ensure the necessary expertise and materials can be procured, including appointing a contractor to carry out the required work. We are aiming to complete this work by early next year, with the catch fence solution being in place for at least the next five to ten years, at which point we will review again.
While it is not desirable to restrict access in the park, the safety of our staff and visitors is our priority and the road will remain closed in the interim so we can safely re-facilitate access in this area.
The Radical Road is currently closed due to life safety risk from rock failure adjacent to the path at Salisbury Crags.
Against the context of a changed environment, we are actively considering what options are open to us to mitigate this risk. Discussions will be required with regulatory bodies to consider this in more detail. In the meantime, access to the Radical Road will remain closed to the public.
HES fully understands that some members of the public are frustrated about access restrictions being placed in the park. As an organisation, access to the properties in our care is a key objective, but we have over-riding statutory duties to ensure the safety of everyone who uses the park, and safety must take priority.