For the vast majority of people it is the quality of the mountain or hill environment that attracts them to hill tops. SOTA activators need to share that environment in a sensitive way. If, for whatever reason, this cannot happen then you should not go ahead with the activation. SOTA activations need to be seen as having a low environmental impact - this has always been the case for the vast majority of activations.
As radio amateurs it is easy to forget in the excitement of the moment, perhaps while working some rare DX, that shouting into a microphone is viewed by most people as an unacceptable activity - especially in the hills. Aerials and wires are alien features on hill tops (well most hill tops anyway) and must be sensitively sited (not blocking paths etc. and out of view where possible). Straining to hear a weak CW signal and turning the loudspeaker volume up to do so is just more "urban"; noise to everyone else (headphones are strongly recommended). Ideally, non-amateurs will either never notice us or leave with a positive impression of our hobby - if that is unlikely to be the case, then SOTA is not for you.
There is no need to operate from the exact summit itself (though you should perhaps have reached the summit before you start operating!). Our rules allow operation within 25 metres vertically of any summit so in most cases there is plenty of leeway to allow you to set up a station unobtrusively and out of the wind. In this respect, the use of tents on popular hills should be avoided where possible as they do tend to attract the (often unfavourable) attention of landowners.>
If asked to leave, do so politely; even where rights of access apply, they do not include amateur radio operation. A typical activation will only have one or two people involved and will be quite short (normally less than an hour and a half). Most landowners will tolerate such activities without requiring formal permission (especially where they occur on or adjacent to a public right-of-way). For larger activations (particularly Radio Club events), formal permission should always be sought. To avoid any blanket ban on operating, when applying for permission always refer to a particular location and time period. The SOTA Management Team asks that activators do not enter into discussions regarding general access with national bodies. Programme participants in the UK do not have authority to negotiate on behalf of SOTA and in the unlikely event of such negotiations being necessary, the Management Team will handle them.
Our environmental rules are clear:
Access arrangements vary from country to country. In England and Wales adherence to the Countryside Code is recommended. However this Code is equally applicable to other areas.
One of your *x*x!!! SOTA operators spoilt my day's walking...
We hope that this never happens but if you are not an amateur and have arrived here to make a complaint, you are in the right place. Please e-mail the SOTA Committee with the date, place and time of the incident together with some brief details of what happened. We will investigate and will take appropriate action we will also let you know what we have done. Contact us here. Thank you for your help.