AFTER a summer of peaceful and non-disruptive marches for independence across Scotland, the nation’s capital could witness serious disruption on Saturday as demonstrators protest against the actions of Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

The prospect of protests in Edinburgh away from the main All Under One Banner (AUOB) march down the Royal Mile on Saturday is growing apace after quango HES would not confirm permission for the rally at the end of the march to go ahead in Holyrood Park.

Following that decision and also HES’s eviction of the 500-mile independence walkers from Stirling Castle car park on Sunday, The National has learned that up to 2000 people are planning a sit down protest and a picnic in Princes Street prior to Saturday’s march which begins from Johnston Terrace at 1pm.

AUOB are still hoping for a change of heart by HES, but Manny Singh who is in charge of stewarding for AUOB said he had asked for a meeting with HES and none had been forthcoming. He said: “I cannot guarantee that members of the independence movement will not take things into their own hands in protest at HES’s actions.

“It is our opinion that the legislation cannot prevent us from gathering on public land such as Holyrood Park but HES are refusing to discuss it with us.

“We told them that this prospect of other protests might happen and judging by social media, it now looks as though they will happen.”

The National can reveal that one of HES’s predecessor quangos, Historic Scotland, had the same ‘non-political’ policy but did not ban then first minister Alex Salmond’s event for independence in Edinburgh Castle.

Better Together was banned from Holyrood Park in 2014, however. Questions have also been raised as to why the policy cannot be overruled by the Scottish Government, with HES answering to Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop.

The Scottish Government told The National all questions should be directed to HES. The National sent HES the following questions on Tuesday: Can you confirm whether or not the appropriate minister approved the policy on political events? Can you confirm that the board of HES approved it? Did the same policy apply under Historic Scotland prior to the establishment of HES?

Can you confirm that a Vote No/Better Together event was prohibited in Holyrood Park prior to the 2014 referendum? Can you confirm that the procedure for unauthorised events is to call the police? If so, why, as the police have no role in such situations?

Can you say how your policy conforms to the Scottish Outdoor Access code which specifically says that access should be permitted to open ground, including managed park spaces, for “activities concerned with furthering a person’s understanding of the natural or cultural heritage”?

Have you had any members cancel their membership over the Holyrood and Stirling Castle matters? And lastly, is there any chance of a change of mind about Saturday’s rally given the safety concerns expressed by the organisers? HES said they would provide us with answers today.