All farmers and landowners have responsibility for the rights of way crossing their land and for the public using them.
Landowners’ responsibilities for rights of way include:
- Keeping rights of way open and free from obstruction
- Reinstating cross field paths after ploughing within timescales
- Not ploughing field edge paths
- Keeping stiles and gates on rights of way in good repair
- Keeping paths clear of overhanging or side vegetation (e.g. from hedges and tree limbs)
Over the years the County Council’s rights of way teams have built up good working relationships with the farming community. Officers in each highway division can provide help and advice regarding rights of way and arrange for maintenance work.
The County Council can:
- Improve signposting and waymarking of paths to make it easier for the public to follow routes
- Carry out the replacement of improvement to stiles and gates
- Undertake mowing of headland paths
- Install and repair bridges
- Provide marker posts to indicate the position of field edge and cross field paths to assist ploughing and cultivation operations
The County Council has recently published its “Rights of Way Improvement Plan” which sets out a strategy for improving the path network for a variety of users.
If things go wrong
The County Council has a duty to “assert and protect” the rights of the public to use and enjoy public rights of way. We will seek to resolve issues as they arise through goodwill and co-operation with farmers and landowners. Sometimes it is necessary for us to resort to taking enforcement action where co-operation fails. The Rural Payments Agency is asking highway authorities to report breaches of non-compliance to them.