Public Rights of Way: what does it mean for landowners, farm managers and walkers?

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Where is your boundary? Who owns a hedge, a ditch, a boundary? Where is that footpath? All these are common issues in land ownership.

Many have a new passion for walking and gardening following lockdown over the last seven months, but what does that mean for you the landowner, or for you the farm manager, or for you the keen walker?

Walkers regularly veer off the designated footpaths – this could be because the maps they are using are wrong. Many walkers are unaware of OS map inaccuracies. So to help keep walkers along the right path and to help keep your farmworkers and the members of the public safe, it is worth the small cost of depositing a Statement and Declaration confirming your designated paths and bridleways with the Council. It might also be worth investing in clear and correct wording on a few signs put up in the right location to aid this. The Statement and Declarations can then be viewed online by walkers.

Whilst looking at land in this way for the landowner it is also worth confirming that all land within your ownership is shown correctly and registered at the Land Registry. It is cheaper to carry out a voluntary first registration of land now, than for it to go through several generations and a time consuming and paper-heavy process later down the line. Voluntary registration is most cost-effective for anyone. This also stops the potential for the erection of a fence slightly further into a field – potentially unnoticed for a while – or on to a grass margin or in an area within a particular environmental scheme that the local homeowner believes to be an area of unused land. Without realising that it is within an environmental scheme could result in the loss of that land through adverse possession claims by householders. It is better to know than to assume.

Our Agriculture & Estates lawyers are here to help and would be delighted to discuss these two key points further with you and help keep you, workers, walkers, and the public safe and working together whilst enjoying the countryside.

If you wish to discuss this or any other issues please contact Rachel Chilton at rachel.chilton@ashtonslegal.co.uk or phone her on 01284 727089.


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