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Public Rights of Way - Defra Guidance

29/05/20
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For farmers on the Sandstone Ridge there are continued concerns following the statement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday, 10 May.

Some of the issues raised include an increased use of footpaths that run through, or close to, farmyards and gardens which could put people who live and work in rural areas at risk, as well as an increased risk to livestock and newborn lambs due to more people walking dogs in the countryside.

For information, Defra has provided the option for farmers to offer alternative routes and has issued notices for farmers to put up to alert the public to the guidance so that everyone can remain safe.

In summary, this guidance clarifies that the rights of way network remains open and owners/occupiers should not unlawfully obstruct or restrict the rights of way network. However, where large numbers of people are using such routes, landowners may consider the following measures:

  • Tying gates open if it is safe to do so, so that walkers do not need to touch the gate.
  • Temporarily displaying polite notices that encourage users to respect local residents and workers by following social distancing guidelines and consider using alternative routes that do not pass through gardens or farmyards. (Note: this is a polite request only, and there is no power under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 for landowners to close or obstruct a public right of way).
  • Offering a permissive alternative route around gardens and farmyards only where it is safe to do so (permission must be obtained from relevant landowners and steps must be taken to make sure the route is safe for users and livestock) provided that the original right of way is maintained. It is also necessary to check the insurance position before doing this to ensure that appropriate cover is in place.

For further govt information CLICK HERE

Continue to check websites as circumstances change.

Stay safe and be alert everyone.