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Council Services:

Information for farmers and landowners

Farmers and landowners have a key role to play in working with the County Council to keep the access network in good shape.

Advice for farmers&landowners

The majority of the rights of way network in Lincolnshire crosses land in active agricultural production although they can pass through other sites, for example, industrial sites or private gardens.

Farmers and landowners have a key role to play in working with the County Council to keep the access network in good shape.

Most rights of way are maintainable at public expense and so the responsibility to maintain these routes rests with the County Council as the Highway Authority.

Maintenance advice

All farmers and landowners have responsibility for the rights of way crossing their land and for the public using them. Landowners’ responsibilities for rights of way include:

  • Keeping rights of way open and free from obstruction
  • Reinstating cross field paths after ploughing within timescales
  • Not ploughing field edge paths
  • Keeping stiles and gates on rights of way in good repair
  • Keeping paths clear of overhanging or side vegetation (e.g. from hedges and tree limbs)

Over the years the County Council’s rights of way teams have built up good working relationships with the farming community.  Officers in each highway division can provide help and advice regarding rights of way and arrange for maintenance work.

The County Council can:

  • Improve signposting and way-marking of paths to make it easier for the public to follow routes
  • Carry out the replacement of improvement to stiles and gates
  • Undertake mowing of headland paths
  • Install and repair bridges
  • Provide marker posts to indicate the position of field edge and cross field paths to assist ploughing and cultivation operations

The County Council has recently published its Rights of Way Improvement Plan which sets out a strategy for improving the path network for a variety of users.

If things go wrong…

The County Council has a duty to “assert and protect” the rights of the public to use and enjoy public rights of way.  We will seek to resolve issues as they arise through goodwill and co-operation with farmers and landowners.

Sometimes it is necessary for us to resort to taking enforcement action where co-operation fails. The Rural Payments Agency is asking highway authorities to report breaches of non-compliance to them, with more information available on the DEFRA website

Cattle and public access

The banning of specific breeds of bulls from being at large in fields crossed by public rights of way. Section 59 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 bans bulls of recognised dairy breeds (eg Ayrshire, Friesian, Holstein, Dairy Shorthorn, Guernsey, Jersey and Kerry) in all circumstances from being at large in fields crossed by public rights of way.

Bulls of all other breeds are also banned from such fields unless accompanied by cows or heifers, but there are no specific prohibitions on other cattle.

For more information see the HSE information sheet, available to download from this page, on Cattle and public access in England and Wales.

Frequently asked questions

How wide are Public Rights of Way?

The Rights of Way Act 1990 sets out legal widths for the reinstatement of public rights of way after ploughing or sowing crops.

Paths that have been disturbed should be reinstated to a minimum width of:

  • 1.0 metre for a crossfield footpath
  • 2.0 metres for a crossfield bridleway

Farmers are not permitted to plough field edge paths and the minimum widths that should be left undisturbed are:

  • 1.5 metres for a field edge footpath
  • 3.0 metres for a field edge bridleway

What signs can be placed on or adjacent to a Public Right of Way?

Lincolnshire County Council as a Highway Authority has a duty to signpost rights of way, where they leave a road.  In the case of paths which are surfaced for their entire length and run between boundaries in built up areas are exempt from this duty.

The Highway Authority has powers to provide waymarks along rights of way, for example on stiles and kissing gates at field boundaries to indicate the line of the path.

A landowner may not erect misleading signs likely to deter people from using a right of way.  A sign “Private Road” placed on a track which is also a byway would be a misleading sign, but not necessarily if it was on a footpath or bridleway. Highway Authorities have powers to order the removal of misleading notices.

Can I plough a Public Rights of Way on my land?

Farmers and landowners can only plough cross-field footpaths and bridleways where it cannot be avoided.

Farmers and landowners can only plough cross-field footpaths and bridleways where it cannot be avoided. It is a legal requirement that these paths are reinstated by making sure it is reasonably convenient to use and clearly marked on the ground within 14 days of ploughing.

Any subsequent disturbance of the same path (e.g. harrowing) should be reinstated within 24 hours.

It is not permissible to plough:

  • any field-edge right of way
  • restricted byway
  • any Byway Open To All Traffic (BOAT)

The Rights of Way Act 1990 sets out legal widths for the reinstatement of public rights of way after ploughing or sowing crops.

Paths that have been disturbed should be reinstated to a minimum width of:

  • 1.0 metre for a crossfield footpath
  • 2.0 metres for a crossfield bridleway

Farmers are not permitted to plough field edge paths and the minimum widths that should be left undisturbed are:

  • 1.5 metres for a field edge footpath
  • 3.0 metres for a field edge bridleway

Further information and advice can be found in the leaflet and guidance documents available to download from this page.

Can I divert a Public Right of Way on my land?

The County Council has discretionary powers to divert public rights of way via the Public Path Order process. Routes can only be diverted ‘on the ground’, and the Definitive Map and Statement amended to reflect the change, once the legal procedure has been completed.

Should you wish Lincolnshire County Council to consider a diversion proposal or if you need further information on the procedure, please contact the Public Rights of Way section at the County Council using the contact details provided on this page.

Can I close a PRoW on my land?

Paths can only be closed following a legal order to do so. The County Council has discretionary powers to extinguish public rights of way via the Public Path Order process.

Routes can only be extinguished ‘on the ground’, and the Definitive Map and Statement amended to reflect the change, once the legal procedure has been completed.

Should you wish Lincolnshire County Council to consider an extinguishment proposal or if you need further information on the procedure, please contact the Public Rights of Way section at the County Council using the contact details provided on this page.

Can I build on a Public Right of Way on my land?

Public Rights of Way should be kept free of obstructions at all times. Building over a right of way is not permitted unless the path has been legally diverted before development takes place.

Please contact your district council for planning advice or the Public Rights of Way section at the County Council using the contact details provided on this page.

Contacts

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Last updated: 22 February 2016

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