Rights and responsibilities
Who is responsible for various rights of way issues?
We, as highway authority, have a duty to assert and protect the rights of the public to the use and enjoyment of the rights of way network. However, the responsibility for ensuring that paths are safe and convenient for the public to use is shared predominantly between us and landholders. Below are just some of the rights and responsibilities relating to public rights of way.
- Ensuring that rights of way are free from obstruction and that they can be used by the public safely
- Clearing the surface vegetation from publicly maintainable rights of way and ensuring that the surface is in a fit condition for its intended use
- The maintenance of some, but not all, bridges
- Signposting and, where appropriate, waymarking rights of way
- Authorising gates and stiles on rights of way
- Ensuring that the definitive map is kept up to date
- Consulting as statutory consultee on all planning applications that affect a right of way
We also have the power to make diversions or extinguishments when rights of way are affected by development under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and for preference under the Highways Act 1980.
Landowner and farmer responsibilities
The landowner must not:
- Place any object, structure, fence or anything else on the path which may cause it to be obstructed
- Plough out any headland footpath, bridleway or any restricted byway or 'byway open to all traffic'
- Allow any crossfield path to become obstructed by growing crops
- Allow any bull over ten months old to be at large in any field through which a public right of way passes, unless it's not of a recognised dairy breed and is accompanied by cows or heifers. Recognised dairy breeds are Ayrshire, British Fresian, British Holstein, Dairy Shorthorn, Guernsey, Jersey and Kerry.
- Damage, alter or interfere with the surface of any public right of way without the written permission of the highway authority (Shropshire Council).
- Allow rights of way to become obstructed by overgrowing vegetation from boundary hedges and overhanging trees
Users rights and responsibilities
- To pass and repass along a right of way without being unduly hindered or intimidated
- To use a right of way with 'normal accompaniments' - for example a dog or pram. Note: a bicycle can't be ridden on a footpath, but may be used on a bridleway, restricted byway or byway open to all traffic
- To use all rights of way with respect for the owner of the land over which it passes and for other users of the network
- To use rights of way only for their designated purpose
- Not to stray from the path
- To keep any dog with you under close control when near livestock (if necessary, on a lead) and not to permit it to run over private land adjoining the right of way
- To prevent your dog from fouling a right of way so as to be a nuisance to other users and to remove any dog faeces in the appropriate manner
- To comply with the Countryside Code
Rights of way legislation and enforcement
The Highways Act 1980 places specific duties on us as the highway authority to protect the rights of way network and powers to enable law enforcement where necessary.
These powers include the rights to:
- Require the removal of an obstruction on a right of way by any person thought to be responsible
- Require the removal of anything deposited on the right of way
- require the clearance of overhanging or encroaching vegetation
- Institute or defend legal proceedings
On receiving a report of an obstruction on a right of way, we'll usually attempt to negotiate a resolution with those responsible before resorting to legal proceedings. All problems reported are recorded and dealt with according to their priority, with health and safety issues being given highest priority. It's important to note that some problems may take longer to resolve than others.