Public Rights of Way

The Council has received updated guidance from DEFRA about the safe use of Rights of Way during the coronavirus and temporary options open to landowners to vary their use to miniimise the risk to public safety.

Public Rights of Way

The Council has received updated guidance from DEFRA about the safe use of Rights of Way during the coronavirus and temporary options open to landowners to vary their use to mininimise the risk to public safety.

Nationally, some landowners are concerned about increased use of public rights of way on their property, increasing the risk to livestock, such as instances of gates being left open and dogs not being controlled.

Increased use of public rights of way that run through gardens, farmyards and schools may also increaase the risk of exposure to the coronavirus to residents and farm workers.

But the risk of the coronavirus being passed on to others from people using public rights of way and other paths and trails is considered to be very low as long as people follow the Government’s instructions to maintain social distancing

Landowners do not have the legal right to block or obstruct public rights of way but, in very limited circumstances where large numbers of people are using such routes, landowners can consider the following measures:

  • Tying gates open if it is safe to do so, so that walkers do not need to touch the gate.
  • Temporarily displaying polite notices that encourage users to respect local residents and workers by following social distancing guidelines and consider using alternative routes that do not pass through gardens, farmyards or schools (this is a polite request only, and there is no power under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 for landowners to close or obstruct a public right of way).
  • Offering an alternative route around gardens and farmyards only where it is safe to do so (permission would be required from relevant landowners and the route must be safe for users and livestock) provided that the original right of way is maintained so that users with differing abilities have a choice.

These temporary measures must be lifted as soon as social distancing measures are relaxed.

Notices available to download

Landowners can download a notice to erect on paths here and if a suitable alternative route is available may use the notice here

Full guidance and the above downloads will be available on our website at www.rotherham.gov.uk/coronavirus from today 

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