Rights & responsibilities - Landowners
Rights of Way & LandownersPloughing
Ploughing & Cultivating
You must not plough or disturb the surface of:
cross-field footpaths and bridleways that you can conveniently avoid,
footpaths or bridleways at the edge of the field,
any other right of way.
You may plough or disturb the surface of a footpath or bridleway that crosses a field if it is not convenient to avoid it when sowing or cultivating a crop. But you must make sure that:
The surface is made good, to at least the minimum width, so that it is reasonably convenient to use,
The line is apparent on the ground, to at least the minimum width, to anyone using it.
This must be done within:
14 days of the FIRST DISTURBANCE for that crop, or
24 hours of any second or subsequent disturbance, unless a longer period has first been agreed, in writing, by the highway authority.
You may also disturb a footpath or bridleway during an excavation or engineering operation, but only if you get written permission from the highway authority.
You must not allow crops, other then grass, to grow on or overhang the minimum width of the footpath, bridleway or other right of way at any time, so as to inconvenience the public or prevent the line of the right of way from being apparent on the ground.
If the width of the path is recorded, then that is the minimum width.
If the width of the path is not recorded then the ‘minimum width’ means:
For a footpath, 1 metre across the field, 1.5 metres on the field edge;
For a bridleway, 2 metres across the field, 3 metres on the field edge;
For other rights of way, 3 metres across the field, 5 metres at the field edge.
These widths apply only to the law on ploughing and cultivation, they are the minimum you must comply with if you are to avoid action being taken against you. They do not affect other aspects of the law on public paths and do not limit the public’s established rights of passage in any way.
Keep within the law
If you are the occupier, it is your responsibility to comply with the law, regardless of who carried out the work for you.
The highway authority will take action if you fail to do so;
It can prosecute you,
It can enter onto your land, carry out the works it thinks are necessary (sometimes to a wider ‘maximum’ width) and recover it’s costs from you
Any person can bring a prosecution against you if you fail to keep a footpath, bridleway or other right of way clear of obstruction, including crops.
For examples please click here.
(Taken from ‘The Rights of Way Act 1990’ Guidance notes for farmers, Countryside Commission & the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries & Food, CCP 299, ISBN 0 86170 259 X)