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Country News - 2003

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Keep paths open, farmers warned

Tuesday 10 June 2003

SUMMER'S growing crops and vegetation could land farmers and highway authorities in trouble if rights of way are obstructed or cultivated, warns the Country Land & Business Association (CLA).

"Cross-field paths and bridleways over cultivated land must by law be clearly visible on the ground and not be obstructed by growing or overhanging crops," advises the CLA's Yorkshire regional director, Dorothy Fairburn.

"Field edge footpaths and bridleways must never be cultivated, and it is the highways authority's responsibility to maintain the surface and control vegetation that isn't a crop, she added.

"Landlords and tenants are under a duty not to obstruct any public right of way and the courts have interpreted this as anything which could inconvenience or endanger the public in any way, or discourage use. An imminent harvest is no excuse.

"Tourism is now major contributor to the rural economy and this is the time of year when holidaymakers and day trippers are most likely to want to enjoy using rights of way. We are asking our farming and land-owning members in Yorkshire to bear this in mind as well as the risks of prosecution as a result of mismanagement."


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