A LAST-ditch attempt is to be made to allow the All Under One Banner march for independence on Saturday in Edinburgh to end in a rally at Holyrood Park.

A meeting will take place later this morning of the Edinburgh Events Planning and Operations Group (EPOG) after AUOB march organiser Gary Kelly raised his concerns over safety with the numbers attending set to soar well past the original estimate of 15-30,000.

“The march will go ahead at 1pm on the planned route from Johnstone Terrace down the Royal Mile to Holyrood,” said Kelly. “We are hoping to persuade Historic Environment Scotland at the EPOG meeting to allow a rally and safe dispersal to take place somewhere in the park.

“Whatever happens we will use social media to let people know the outcome and we will make sure that The National is kept informed so that you can let your readers know.”

The meeting comes at the end of a week in which Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has come under fire from many in the independence movement, with protests growing against the quango’s actions to prevent what it calls “political” events at Holyrood and Stirling Castle where police were called on Sunday morning as the people doing the 500 mile walk for independence gathered with eight supporters for a photoshoot in the car park.

A protest against the ban on the rally is now planned for Princes Street at noon tomorrow and The National has been told of plans to have “pop up” rallies and a giant picnic across Holyrood Park at the end of the march.

The National can also reveal that a counter-demonstration by Unionists is planned on the Royal Mile, and those taking part have agreed to be kept behind barriers.

Despite AUOB’s claims to the contrary, HES said it is complying with the law in banning political events.

Asked if there had been ministerial or board approval of the ‘no politics’ policy, HES stated: “This is our operational position on political events at our Properties in Care and has been a consistent, long-standing operational approach, including under the former Historic Scotland.”

The policy has at least been consistent. The spokeswoman confirmed: “An application for an event at Holyrood Park by a group supporting the ‘No’ campaign was refused prior to the 2014 referendum.”

Many activists were angered by the police being called at Stirling Castle. The spokeswoman explained: “Our staff will always engage and explain our position on unauthorised events and ask that this is moved on. Where this is not possible our staff will consider the circumstance of the incident, which may include calling Police Scotland to assist.”

The National asked HES to explain how the policy confirms to the Scottish Outdoor Access. The quango replied: “We are not restricting public access to Holyrood Park altogether.

“There is a distinction between the exercise of access rights under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and the holding of an event of the nature proposed by AUOB.

“The Scottish Outdoor Access Code is based on the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 provides that there is some land over which public access rights are not exercisable. This includes land to which public access is prohibited, excluded or restricted by or under any other legislation (section 6(1)(d) of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003).

“We have specific powers (delegated to us by Scottish Ministers under the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014) to regulate access to all Scheduled Ancient Monuments, in terms of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

“Holyrood Park is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Property in Care. We manage it on behalf of Scottish Ministers. It is also a Royal Park so is governed by specific additional rules set out in the Parks Regulation Act 1872 and the Holyrood Park Regulations 1971, as amended.

“The Holyrood Park Regulations 1971, as amended (“the Regulations”) set out acts which are prohibited within Holyrood Park, and acts requiring written permission from us. Thus, the types of permitted activities at Holyrood Park are also governed by this additional legislation. Such restrictions supersede the rights in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.”

Asked if any HES members had cancelled their membership over the Holyrood and Stirling Castle matters, the spokeswoman stated: “As of today, Thursday 4 October, we have had 25 confirmed membership cancellations.”

The HES spokeswoman emphasised that the public will still be able to access Holyrood Park as normal tomorrow, though HES has cancelled a scheduled event it was involved with, the Volcano Fun Day around Arthur’s Seat.