Maintaining public rights of way

4. Autumn cultivation information for farmers

The information below is the legal requirements, regarding the reinstatement of the county's paths or rights of way. 

We appreciate the care that you take in looking after public rights of way.

For requests to secure a better access, i.e. stile structures that could be replaced, or undergrowth impeding a field edge path. Please get in touch with us using our contact us form.

  • You may plough a public right of way only if it is not convenient to avoid disturbing the path.
  • Your right to disturb the path only applies if you are in a position to reinstate it;
    • Within 14 days of the first disturbance, the path must be levelled and made visible.
    • Within 24 hours of any subsequent disturbance, the path must be levelled and made visible.
  • If there is no recorded width the reinstatement must be:
    • At least 1 metre for a cross-field footpath, across the cultivation
    • 2 metres for a crossfield bridleway across the cultivations if there is no recorded width.
  • This can be done either by consolidating the line or by setting poles in pairs. One metre apart for a footpath, and 2 metres apart for a bridleway at visible distances apart across the cultivations.
  • It is not sufficient to leave the path in a seedbed. 
  • The route must be visible across the field so that it is convenient for use by the public.
  • Upon full emergence, the crop must be removed to the minimum width from the line of the route.
  • Throughout the season paths must be kept clear of growing or overhanging crops to the minimum width. Again, where no width is recorded, the widths are as in (3) above. I would also remind you that, because some types of crop, such as oilseed rape, are prone to fall in. In these cases, a greater width should be removed to allow them to lodge over without obstructing the minimum width.
  • Should you farmland where a path follows a field edge, the route must not be disturbed or ploughed.
  • Where field edge paths have no recorded width, it must be left undisturbed. To a minimum usable width of 1.5 metres for a footpath and 3 metres for a bridleway.
  • Please note that these widths are only applicable to paths that cross land in arable cultivation.

Additionally, the Highways Act 1980 places a duty on the landowner to:

  • maintain structures on public paths to a safe condition
  • to a standard of repair required to prevent unreasonable interference with public rights.

The Act also requires the owner or occupier of land adjoining a path, not to endanger or obstruct the public's use with hedge growth, trees or shrubs. 

For further information or advice please call  01296 382416 or use our contact us form.

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Last updated: 12 March 2019

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