Responsibilities of landowners and of the public on farmland

Written by John Wilde.

Landowners and farmers are required to
• Know where Public Rights of Way cross their land and ensure that they are open and easy to use
• Keep Public Rights of Way clear of obstructions and overhanging vegetation including hedges and fallen trees. Hedges should be cleared high enough along bridleways, restricted byways and Byways Open to All Traffic to allow for horses and riders
• Maintain stiles and gates across footpaths and gates across bridleways in a good state of repair (with the assistance of maintenance authorities)
• Not place new structures across Public Rights of Way without prior consent of Norfolk County Council
• Provide new bridges or culverts over new or widened drainage ditches following consultation with Norfolk County Council
• Restore the surface of any cross field footpath or bridleway which has been ploughed or disturbed to at least the minimum width so that it
• is reasonably convenient to use and apparent on the ground, within 14 days (or 24 hours of any subsequent disturbance).
• The minimum width for a footpath is 1m across the field or 1.5m on the field edge, for a bridleway it is 2m across the field or 3m on the field edge.
• These widths only apply to the law on ploughing and cropping and do not affect other aspects of the law on Public Rights of Way.
• For rapeseed oil crop we ask for a minimum of 2m for a cross field path due to the nature of the crop as it tends to fall into the path.
• Not plough or disturb the surface of cross field footpaths and bridleways where it can conveniently be avoided
• Not plough any footpath or bridleway which constitutes a headland, i.e. field edge
• Not plough any Byway Open to All Traffic or Restricted Byway, these Public Rights of Way will have a minimum width of 3m
• Ensure crops (other than grass), are not grown on or overhang a right of way at any time, so as to obstruct or otherwise inconvenience the public or prevent the line of the Public Right of Way from being apparent on the ground
• Not allow any prohibited bull in a field through which a Public Right of Way passes. (A bull is usually permitted if he has his harem with him)
• Not erect misleading signs likely to deter use of Public Rights of Way
• Not remove or alter the direction of rights of way signs and waymarks
• Not allow barbed or electrified wire to cross through stiles or run too close to adjacent Public Rights of Way
• Contact Norfolk County Council before erecting fencing adjacent to Public Rights of Way to ensure that the highway is not encroached upon
• Ensure that Public Rights of Way are restored following drainage schemes •

The public's responsibilities
• Be considerate
• You may stop and rest, provided that you stay on the path and do not cause an obstruction or damage the Public Right of Way
• If you stray from the Public Right of Way you are trespassing and the landowner may ask you to leave. Remember that the countryside is a place where people live and work and that you should respect their rights by not deliberately disturbing them or their property
• You can take a short alternative route around an illegal obstruction or fallen tree or remove it sufficiently to get past
• Dogs should be kept under close control and should stay on the Public Right of Way
• Take your litter home
• Close gates behind you, especially when there is livestock in the fields