Obstructions to public rights of way

Planned maintenance to the Planning Portal

Due to an upgrade to the Planning Portal between 9.00am on Friday 24 November and 6.00pm on Saturday 25 November, you'll be unable to view documents online during this time.

We have to remove all obstructions to public rights of way (PROWs).

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

Ploughing over PROWs

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

If a PROW is ploughed over, the surface must be made suitable to use:

  • within 14 days of the first ploughing
  • within 24 hours after each subsequent disturbance

Unless a different width is recorded on the Definitive Statement, the PROW must be made suitable to use to at least the following minimum statutory widths:

  • 1 metre for a footpath
  • 2 metres for a bridleway

PROWs round the edge of a field must never be ploughed unless directed by the council.

Unless a different width is recorded on the Definitive Statement, the minimum statutory widths for a field edge path are:

  • 1.5 metres for a footpath
  • 3 metres for a bridleway

We currently operate an annual ploughing and cropping regime to ensure PROWs are suitable for use.

Failure to follow these rules is a criminal offence.

Crops growing on PROWs

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

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

Unless a different width is recorded on the Definitive Statement), the PROWs must be a minimum statutory width of:

  • 1 metre for a footpath
  • 2 metres for a bridleway

We currently operate an annual ploughing and cropping regime to ensure paths are suitable for use.

Failure to follow these rules is a criminal offence.

You can use our eForm to report overgrown vegetation on a PROW, but crops are the responsibility of landowners.

Bulls

Bulls that are over 10 months old are not allowed in fields crossed by a PROW 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 PROW.

See further details regarding how we deal with dogs and related issues.

Litter and flytipping

We remove litter from PROWs. You can use our eForm to report litter on a PROW.

If there is enough flytipping to cause an obstruction then we will remove it. You can use our eForm to report flytipping.

Misleading notices

Misleading notices and signs on PROWs 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 PROW, 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 PROW may be 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 PROW 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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