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Rights and Responsibilities

1. Users responsibilities

A right of way gives users a right to pass and re-pass along a route and to deviate around any obstruction they may come across. Any other use on private land may be trespass unless you have the permission of the landowner or some other right to be there. Users of rights of way should follow the Countryside Code that reads as follows:

  • Be safe - plan ahead and follow any signs
  • Leave gates and property as you find them
  • Protect plants and animals, and take your litter home
  • Keep dogs under close control
  • Consider other people
  • Walkers should be prepared to wear boots or wellingtons in poor weather as paths can become very muddy.


2. The Borough Council's responsibilities


Maintaining path surfaces, including controlling natural vegetation and keeping them free of obstructions.

This Council carries out an annual clearance programme for many field-edge paths.

Signposting paths where they leave a metalled road and also waymarking where they are difficult to follow.

Installing and maintaining bridges over natural watercourses, such as streams and ditches.


Many Acts of Parliament cover rights of way but the principal one is the Highways Act

– drawn up in 1959 and updated in 1980. Public rights of way are effectively minor highways and the legislation mainly relates to obstructions, and failure to maintain. Legislation also exists to protect the public from such issues as misleading signs, dangerous animals and intimidation.

3. Landowner and Occupier responsibilities:

  • Not obstructing paths including the placing of plain, barbed or electrified wire across them and warning users of any potential dangers near rights of way
  • · Keeping hedges and other overhanging or encroaching vegetation cut back
  • Not ploughing or disturbing field edge paths
  • Only ploughing cross field paths where they cannot be reasonably avoided
  • Within 14 days of ploughing/cultivation, restoring paths that cross fields so that they can be seen and are usable
  • Ensuring stiles and gates on their land are in good order
  • Not erecting any new stile, gate or other structure on any right of way without the Borough Council's authority
  • Following rules relating to bulls – i.e. to not allow any dairy bull over ten months of age to be at large in any field through which a public right of way passes
  • Provide adequate bridges where new ditches are made or existing ones widened
  • Landowners and farmers may shoot on their land but not in such a way as to endanger the public using a right of way.

Dairy Breeds are: Ayrshire, British Holstein, Dairy Shorthorn, Guernsey, Jersey and Kerry.
All other breeds of bull are allowed, but must be accompanied by cows or heifers.

Dairy| gif image, 18kb    Beef| gif image, 19kb

4. Other Responsibilities

The Council also has responsibilities relating to planning, dog fouling, fly tipping and litter

under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Landowners are responsible for removing litter from their own property whoever put it there.


The Borough Council is responsible for administering planning applications. From 6 April 2008 there will be a mandatory standard planning application form and associated information requirements. The application form will require applicants to provide details of public rights of way to ensure they are considered at the start of the planning process and allow the planning authority to assess whether a proposal might impact on public rights of way.

Other Councils – Parish Councils can also get involved in the maintenance of and improvements to the rights of way in their parish.


Additional links

Structures and specifications

What is a public right of way

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Here you will find information on environmental and planning issues. This section provides a wealth of information including details on how to make or enquire about a planning application, rubbish, waste and recycling information.


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