Accessing private property

I know there are a few budding VK5 SOTA ops that read this blog, and I thought it might be appropriate to raise a few issues re access to many of the VK5 summits.

So far I have activated about 32 summits since March this year, and the vast majority of those have been situated on private property.  And on each occasion I have spoken with the land owners prior to gaining access to the summit either on, or via their property.

And fortunately I have only spoken to 2 x land owners in the past 5 months that have refused access to their land.  Their main concerns have been prior bad experience with people tresspassing on their land, or issues with public liability insurance.

I guess I am writing this blog, because all we need is one irresponsible activator, and it might affect any future SOTA activations.

I know that many of the suggestions below are common sense, but from my past experiences in life, this doesn’t always rub off on all people.

Here are a few suggestions to keep land owners happy…..

  1. Contact the land owner prior to accessing the summit.  Imagine someone walking into your back yard without seeking prior approval.  Other than it being just plain rude, it is also Tresspassing.
  2. Be polite & friendly.
  3. Explain to them what your intentions are and how long you plan to be on the summit.
  4. Explain the SOTA program to them and the hobby of amateur radio.
  5. If you strike a reluctant party, explain the role that amateur radio plays in disasters, and that its not all about a fun activity.
  6. If the land owner is reluctant, ask if they would like to accompany you.  I have done this before and it has worked.
  7. If they do decline access, please place this information on the SOTA database, so that other activators don’t ring & pester the land owner again.
  8. Pick up your rubbish.  Don’t leave anything behind.
  9. Leave things as you found them.
  10. Close all gates as you find them.  If you are not familiar with ‘cokies gates’, ask the land owner if there are any tricky gates.
  11. Be cognisant of sheep and/or stock on the land that you are entering into or plan to operate from.
  12. Don’t discard cigarette butts.
  13. Be aware of your own safety.  Other than placing your own health at risk, land owners are not going to be keen to allow other people onto their land in the future, if you happen to break you leg and require to be helicoptered off the summit.
  14. Make sure you are on the right summit.  An unhappy neighbour will more than likely get on the telephone to the correct land owner and have a whinge.  The correct summit land owner doesn’t need that.
  15. If you are driving across private land, be aware of the limitations of your vehicle.  Land owners will be none to pleased if they have to come to tow you out after you’ve got yourself bogged.
  16. Phone the land owner following your activation to let them know you are safely off the hill, and to thank them for allowing you access.
  17. Send the land owner some photos of your activation, or a link to your Tube video of your activation.  I have been doing this, and it is amazing how many of them really appreciate it, and enjoy looking at the photos and/or videos.