Laura Sharman 22 April 2020

Councils report tensions over Public Right of Way

A new survey has found 90% of councils have reported increasing tensions between landowners and the public over right of way.

The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) conducted the research to find out what impact Covid-19 has had on public rights of way.

It found two thirds of landowners’ enquiries to councils are requests for routes to be closed or diverted. There has also been a similar increase in complaints from members of the public about footpaths being blocked or closed off by landowners.

Three quarters of responding councils are reporting some impact to rights of way services with 15% saying there has been a major disruption to services.

Paul Newark, chair of ADEPT’s Rights of Way Managers Group, said: 'Local authorities are making every effort to resolve these issues informally, we can understand the concerns of farmers, when people are leaving gates open and not following the Countryside code or social distancing guidance. Equally, for members of the public who use these footpaths, they expect to be able to continue to do so.

'We need clear and consistent messaging from government and the police on how local exercise guidelines are being interpreted. We are finding this varies significantly across the country, which causes confusion and increases tension.'

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