Public rights of way during Covid-19 lockdown – what landowners need to know
Despite social distancing rules making many of the UK’s cities ghost towns, there is still no requirement or advice for public rights of way to be closed.
Keeping public rights of way open has been a godsend for so many people and rural families who are making use of them for their daily exercise.
However, with many landowners very worried about the big increase in people crossing their land, it is important that routes should never be blocked or closed.
In very limited circumstances where large numbers of people are using a public right of way that is in close proximity to a landowner’s property or outbuildings, you could consider these three potential actions:
- Erecting notices alerting the public to the fact that the route is in close proximity to their home and reminding them that they should exercise reasonable caution to ensure compliance with social distancing. However, landowners must not discourage use of the route or prevent it from being used.
- If possible, install a temporary permissive path which they could invite the public to use as an alternative. However, the original route must remain available for use and any new permissive route must be wholly within the landowner’s land. The landowner must ensure their public liability insurance covers such a route.
- Finally, if landowners believe there is a problem with people gathering on public rights of way, then the local police should be informed so that they can disperse any such groups.
Hannah Taylor is an agricultural property Solicitor within our award-winning Agriculture and Rural Affairs department. For further advice, readers can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Hannah directly through 01905 610410.