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This is Guidance that Defra issue to Landowners regarding Public Rights of Way across their Land.

This is Guidance that Defra issue to Landowners regarding Public Rights of Way across their Land. This is part of what they should and should not do to keep Public Rights of Way across their land unobstructed and easily usable.
Rights of Way
Keep Public Rights of Way clear of obstructions


As the owner or occupier of land with a public right of way across it, you must

  • avoid putting any obstructions on or across the route, such as permanent or temporary fences, walls, hedgerows, padlocked gates or barbed wire
  • make sure vegetation does not encroach onto the route from the sides or from above, bearing in mind the different clearances needed for users of different types of route e.g. bridleways (use by mounted horse riders)

Obstructing a Public Right of Way is a criminal offence. The Highway Authority - in Hertfordshire this is Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) - has the right to demand that you remove any obstruction you cause. If you don't, the Highway Authority can remove the obstruction(s) and recover the cost from you.
You must not disturb the surface of Byways, Restricted Byways or Public Roads e.g. by cultivating or ploughing.

Field-Edge and Cross-Field Public Rights of Way

You must not cultivate or plough Footpaths or Bridleways that follow a field-edge.

The minimum width you need to keep undisturbed is:
1.5 metres for a Field-Edge Footpath

3.0 metres for a Field-Edge Bridleway

You should avoid cultivating a Cross-Field Footpath or Bridleway. If you have to cultivate, make sure the Footway or bridleway:

  • remains apparent on the ground to at least the minimum width of 1 metre for a Footpath or 2 metres for a Bridleway, and is not obstructed by crops.
  • is restored to at least the minimum width so that it is reasonabley convenient to use within
    * 14 days of first being cultivated for that crop
    * 24 hours of any subsequent cultivation, unless a longer period has been agreed in advance in writing by the Highway Authority.


If you come across any obstruction on a Public Right of Way within Hertfordshire, contact the County Council on 0300 123 4040, except in Dacorum Borough, where the Borough Council looks after Public Rights of Way on behalf of HCC and you can phone 01442 228000.

Alternatively you can report the problem on the HCC website on https://tinyurl.com/2p95ujy7