Rights of Way - Hazards and dangerous behaviour

We’re responsible for making sure that public rights of way are safe. See also barbed wire and electric fences, and dangerous animals.

Sometimes there are unfenced dangers on adjoining land, which could be dangerous to path users. We start by talking to the owner of the land to urge him/her to remove or fence off the hazard. We can serve a notice requiring him/her to do the work. If the owner doesn’t comply, we may do the work ourselves and recover the costs from the owner.

It isn’t an offence to shoot across a public right of way, although it may be a nuisance or intimidation. It is, however, an offence to discharge a firearm within 50 feet of the centre of a carriageway (usually Byways, but may include Restricted Byways) if it injures, interrupts or endangers anyone using the route. 

It’s also an offence to have a loaded air-weapon – or any other firearm, whether loaded or not, together with ammunition – in a public place, including any public right of way, unless the person has lawful authority or a reasonable excuse, such as a landowner or tenant shooting vermin on his own land.

If we’re concerned for the safety of the public using the right of way, we’ll pass the matter to the police.

It’s an offence to hold a motor vehicle or cycle race on a public highway. This applies to footpaths and bridleways, as well as restricted byways.

If someone is  intimidating people to put them off using a public right of way, they may be committing an offence. To begin with, we’ll try to address any underlying issues which have triggered the problem. We may then issue a warning to the offender and involve the police, if appropriate.

It’s an offence to keep a dangerous or intimidating dog on a public right of way. We’ll ask the landowner to take action so that the dog no longer deters people from using the right of way. We may also inform the police and advise complainants to notify the police directly. 

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