Charities organising outdoor fundraising events in Scotland could be prosecuted and fined if they do not follow a new code of practice being drawn up by the environment quango Scottish Natural Heritage.
The new set of rules, a draft of which has been seen by Third Sector, will exist alongside the Institute of Fundraising's rules on such events.
Scottish Natural Heritage is a regulatory body that is funded by the Scottish government and enforces the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004. It has set up a group called the National Access Forum to produce a new code of practice that would cover outdoor fundraising events north of the border.
The draft code says the provision in the Land Reform (Scotland) Act that all individuals have access rights to all land in Scotland does not apply to people organising group events such as charity fundraisers.
It says land managers have the right to refuse charities access to outdoor areas if they believe the events would interfere with other people's enjoyment of the outdoors, affect the environment or create excessive noise. In these circumstances, it says, land managers can charge charities for access to the land.
The draft code stresses, however, that outright refusal of access is rare and that in most cases land managers are willing to cooperate with reasonable requests from event organisers.
A Scottish National Heritage spokesman said that in extreme cases it could take charities to court and they could be fined. He said the code was not intended to deter charities from organising outdoor fundraising events, but to encourage them to do so responsibly.