Rights of Way - Farming

Many rights of way cross agricultural land, and may be affected by farming activities.

Where a public right of way crosses farmland, it is an offence to keep any bull on the land which over 10 months old and on its own, or any bull of a recognised dairy breed (even if accompanied by cows/heifers).

Bulls which are less than 10 months old, and bulls of a recognised beef breed and at large with cows/heifers are permitted.

If any animal, which its keeper knows is dangerous, injures someone using a public right of way, the injured person could sue the landowner/occupier.

If you think this rule has been broken, please tell us. 

If a crop (other than grass) has been planted or sown on land crossed by a public right of way, the occupier must make sure that the line of the public right of way is kept clear to at least the minimum width (1m for footpaths and 2m for bridleways). The crop must not encroach within that width throughout the growing season. Breaking this rule is a criminal offence. 

In some circumstances occupiers of land are allowed to plough public rights of way, if it is not reasonably convenient to avoid them. This only applies to cross-field footpaths and bridleways. Footpaths and bridleways that follow the field edge should never be ploughed, and neither should ‘restricted byways' and 'byways open to all traffic', whatever their location – field edge or cross field. The minimum widths which should be left unploughed for field-edge paths are:

Type of Public Right of WayMinimum Width
Footpath1.5 metres
Bridleway3 metres
Restricted Byway3 metres
Byway3 metres

 

The minimum widths for cross-field paths:

Type of PathwayWidth
Footpath1 metre
Bridleway2 metres
Restricted Byway3 metres
Byway3 metres

If a cross-field footpath or bridleway is ploughed, it must be reinstated within the legal time limit otherwise the farmer has committed a criminal offence. Reinstatement means marking the path on the ground and making the surface reasonably convenient for public use. The legal time limit is 14 days for the first disturbance of the cropping cycle and 24 hours for any further disturbance such as harrowing and drilling. 

Ploughing and cropping does not often affect rights of way in Powys, because most of the county’s farmland is used for rearing livestock. However, when it happens, we deal with it in the following way: 

For a first offence, we explain the law to the offender and hold an informal interview, which will be recorded in writing. At the end of the interview, we give the offender a copy of the interview, and a form giving him/her 7 days to reinstate the path. If the path isn’t reinstated to a satisfactory standard, we serve formal legal notice upon the offender, requiring him/her to reinstate the path within a further 7 days. If the path is still not reinstated, we carry out the necessary work and recover costs from the offender.

If an occupier responds to the first informal interview request, but repeats the offence in subsequent years, we will immediately serve formal legal notice requiring the reinstatement of the path within 7 days.

If an occupier re-offends after we’ve served a formal legal notice, we will serve legal notice and consider prosecuting them. Anyone who receives an enforcement notice in any one year is sent a letter setting out the law and reminding them of their duties before the next cropping season begins.

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