We have to remove all obstructions to Public Rights of Way (PRoW).

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

Litter and fly-tipping on Public Rights of Way

Report litter online if you notice litter on a PRoW.

Report fly-tipping online if there's enough to cause an obstruction on a PRoW.

Misleading notices on Public Rights of Way

Misleading notices and signs on PRoWs are illegal. It's an offence to erect notices such as ‘Beware of the Dog’ or ‘Bull in field’ if they're untrue.

Notices saying ‘Public footpath only – Private drive’ or ‘Private Land – keep to public footpath’ are acceptable.

Report any misleading notices to our PRoW team.

Farming and land management

Ploughing over Public Rights of Way

A landowner can plough over a PRoW in a field if it's 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 map, 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 to do so by the council.

Unless a different width is recorded on the definitive map, 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 Public Rights of Way

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 10cm

Unless a different width is recorded on the definitive map, the PRoW 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 online form to report overgrown vegetation on a PRoW, but crops are the responsibility of landowners.

Overgrown vegetation on Public Rights of Way

Where a PRoW is obstructed by vegetation coming from the adjacent land it is the responsibility of the owner of the land to remove the obstruction. Where the vegetation is growing through the surface of the PRoW then it is usually the council’s responsibility.

Report overgrown vegetation online if you see a PRoW obstructed by vegetation.

Animals on Public Rights of Way

Bulls on PRoW

Bulls over 10 months old are not allowed in fields crossed by a PRoW unless of a recognised beef breed and are with cows or heifers.

Dairy breed bulls over 10 months old are not allowed even if with cows or heifers.

Intimidating dogs on PRoW

It's an offence to keep dangerous or intimidating dogs on a PRoW.

See further information about dogs and related issues.

Fences and boundaries on Public Rights of Way

Barbed wire fencing across a PRoW

Exposed barbed wire across a PRoW, with no safe means of crossing, is an offence - it's an obstruction and a danger to the public.

Barbed wire adjacent to a PRoW may be a danger to the public if it's too close to a path. We recommend using only plain wire for long fence runs adjacent to PRoWs.

Where the use of barbed wire is unavoidable, it should only be used for short distances, placed on the field side of fence posts, and the barbs removed where it is next to a stile or gate.

Electric fencing across a PRoW

Temporary electric fencing across a PRoW is an obstruction like any other type of fencing across a path and will be dealt with accordingly.

If the electric fencing is permanent, it should be set at a safe distance inside an ordinary fence to prevent PRoW users touching it.

Where the PRoW needs to cross the electric fence, a gate or stile would have to be authorised before the fencing is put up.

Also see

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