Obstructions to public rights of way

Removal of obstructions

We have to remove all obstructions to public rights of way. We also have a common law right to remove anything we believe constitutes an obstruction, danger or encroachment without asking anyone else.

Ploughing over paths

A landowner can plough over a path in a field if it is not reasonably convenient to avoid it.

If a path is ploughed over, the surface must be made suitable to use within 14 days of the first ploughing and within 24 hours after each subsequent disturbance. The path must be made suitable to use to at least the minimum statutory width of 1 metre for a footpath and 2 metres for a bridleway (unless a different width is recorded on the Definitive Statement).

Paths round the edge of a field must never be ploughed unless directed by the council. The minimum width of a field edge footpath is 1.5 metres and 3 metres for a bridleway (unless a different width is recorded on the Definitive Statement).

Failure to follow these rules is a criminal offence. We currently operate an annual ploughing and cropping regime to ensure paths are suitable for use.

Crops growing on paths

Landowners must ensure that the line of a path is kept clear of growing crops to a minimum width. This should be done by:

  • not sowing on the line of the path, or
  • cutting the crop as soon as it is practical, generally after the crop reaches a height of 10cm.

The paths must be a minimum width of 1 metre for a footpath and 2 metres for a bridleway (unless a different width is recorded on the Definitive Statement).

Failure to follow these rules is a criminal offence. We currently operate an annual ploughing and cropping regime to ensure paths are suitable for use.

Bulls

Bulls that are over 10 months old are not allowed in fields crossed by a public right of way unless they are of a recognised beef breed and are with cows or heifers. Dairy breed bulls over 10 months old are not allowed even if they are with cows or heifers.

Intimidating dogs

It is an offence to keep dangerous or intimidating dogs on a right of way.

Litter and fly-tipping

If there is enough fly-tipping to cause an obstruction then we will remove it. We also remove litter.

Misleading notices

Misleading notices and signs on public rights of way are illegal. It is an offence to erect notices saying ‘Beware of the Dog’ or ‘Bull in field’ if they are untrue. Notices saying ‘Public footpath only – Private drive’ or ‘Private Land – keep to public footpath’ are acceptable. 

Barbed wire fencing

Exposed barbed wire across a public right of way, with no safe means of crossing, is an offence. It is an obstruction and a danger to the public wishing to use the path.

Barbed wire adjacent to a path maybe a danger and a nuisance to the public if it is too close to the path. It should be placed on the field side of fence posts and the barbs removed where it is next to a stile or gate.

Electric fencing

Temporary electric fencing across a path is an obstruction like any other type of fencing across a path. However, if it is only temporary, and there is a properly insulated crossing point and the fence is clearly signed as being electric, then the fence would be acceptable. If the fencing is more permanent, then a gate or stile would have to be authorised before the fencing is put up.

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