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You are here: Home Page > Environment and Planning > Countryside > Public Rights of Way > What is a Public Right of Way

What is a Public Right of Way

What can I use?

Public Footpaths

It is a civil wrong to ride a bicycle or a horse on a footpath; action could be taken by the landowner for trespass or nuisance by the user.

Public Bridleways – walkers, horse riders and pedal cyclists

Pedal cyclists should give way to walkers and horse riders.

Byways open to all traffic (BOAT) – walkers, horse riders, pedal cyclists, motorcyclists, horse drawn carriages and motor vehicles

Any vehicle using public byways must be licensed and insured, properly taxed and fit for use on public roads. In some areas use may be restricted by a traffic regulation order [TRO].

It is a criminal offence under Section 34 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 to drive any motorised vehicle on a public footpath or bridleway without 'lawful authority'. 'Lawful authority' includes the right of the local authority to take vehicles along a right of way to maintain it or the permission of the landowner of the land over which the right of way crosses.

People usually mean a Byway when they refer to a Green Lane. This term has no legal meaning.

It is an offence to use any right of way in a reckless or careless manner, or without consideration of other users.

On rights of way you can:

  • Take a pram, pushchair or wheelchair, where possible
  • Take a dog as long as on a lead or under close control
  • Admire the view, stop for a rest, have a small picnic on the verge
  • Take a short alternative route to get round an obstruction but report to the Council

Private and Public Rights

Public rights of way do not in any way affect private rights of access that may exist over that land for landowners and householders. These rights should be mentioned in the deeds of the land in question. Some ways can carry both public and private rights; e.g. a farm access road may also be a public footpath. Private rights must not be exercised in any way as to interfere with the rights of the public.

Permissive paths

Landowners may give permission by a formal agreement with the Borough Council to use paths or tracks over their land that is not public rights of way. Usually referred to as 'permissive paths', they are not covered by rights of way legislation and there is usually no intention that they should become public rights of way. Notices may be erected at each end of the path to this effect and cover additional restrictions on use that may apply.

Additional Access

Schemes like Environmental Stewardship enable additional routes to be provided by landowners and are available to users through Country walks (opens in new window).

Footways

Footway is another word used for pavement. Problems with such should be directed to Highways on their Helpline

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Environment

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.