Remember to restore public rights of way, says CLA

23 October 2013

With a Bank Holiday approaching, CLA Midlands is reminding farmers busy with cultivation to ensure that rights of way on their land remain open and unobstructed.

CLA Midlands regional director Caroline Bedell said: "Ploughing and cultivation are a necessary part of farming, but can sometimes cause problems for walkers.

"While farmers do have a statutory right to plough certain rights of way, it applies only to cross field footpaths and bridleways over agricultural land, and not to field edge paths. The surface must be made good to at least the minimum width within 14 days of the first disturbance or within 24 hours of any subsequent cultivation.

"Also, you need to remember on field edge paths to cut back vegetation encroaching from the sides and above so that it does not inconvenience the public or prevent the line of the right of way being apparent on the ground. You are not obliged to clear the surface, but many farmers do this as a matter of course. On bridleways, horse-riders should be allowed three metres of headroom.

Mrs Bedell added: The problem is that, apart from the risk of being prosecuted and fined, every blocked footpath damages the reputation of the industry and puts visitors off coming to the countryside and spending money here.

"We owe it to our visitors to make them feel welcome; likewise we would expect them to respect the Countryside Code and remember that the countryside is a working environment".