Rights and responsibilities

Everyone has rights and responsibilities in the countryside in relation to public rights of way. Outlined below are general rights and responsibilities. If you wish to seek advice on these in more detail, please contact our Customer Service team or your local area rights of way officer. Alternatively, the government publish a useful summary of land owner rights and responsilbilities.

 

Public Rights

Pedestrians have the right to use public footpaths, bridleways, restricted byways and byways open to all traffic

Equestrians have the right to use bridleways, restricted byways and byways open to all traffic

Cyclists have the right to use bridleways, restricted byways and byways open to all traffic

Horse drawn vehicles have the right to use restricted byways and byways open to all traffic

Motorbikes and vehicles have the right to use byways open to all traffic, but there may be temporary or permanent restrictions. They can not use resticted byways.

You have the right to pass and repass along the public right of way; this may include admiring the view, taking a photograph or resting as long as you stay on the line of the path and do not cause an obstruction

You may take a dog with you, but you must keep it under close control

You may take a short route around an illegal obstruction or remove it sufficiently to get past

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Public Responsibilities

Use Ordnance Survey maps to find your way around and look out for waymark posts and signposts

Walk in single file across arable land, avoid spreading out and trespassing on a wide area

Avoid obstructing field gateways when parking at the beginning of your walk, use laybys and car parks where possible

Keep dogs under close control at all times. You should not let your dog foul the right of way, farmland or any place to which the public has access. Do not allow your dog to worry livestock, run through arable crops or flush game from hedgerows

Follow the Countryside code

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Landowner Rights

You have the right to require the public to leave your land where they have no right of access

You have the right to protect your land from claimed/new public rights of way by submitting a statement & declaration under s31(6) of the Highways Act 1980, erecting signs, locking gates or challenging members of the public

You have the right to give consent for additional public access on your land (either temporary or permanent) using a Licensed Path Agreement (normally 10 year duration) or by dedicating a route to the public as a new right of way.

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Landowner Responsibilities

Make sure you know where the public rights of way are across your land and ensure a check is carried out when purchasing new land or property

Do not obstruct public rights of way

Ensure crossfield routes are convenient, apparent and free from obstruction to the minimum width. For details see the Land managers guide to rights of way in Suffolk


Ensure headland routes are convenient, apparent and free from obstruction to the minimum width. For details see the Land managers guide to rights of way in Suffolk

Never plough a byway or restricted byway

Do not keep bulls of a recognised dairy breed in a field crossed by a public right of way, it is an offence. Only keep bulls in a field crossed by a public right of way if they are under 10 months old or not a recognised dairy breed and accompanied by cows and heifers

Ensure stiles and gates are authorised, maintained in a safe condition and easy to use and remove any unnecessary structure

Do not place barbed wire across rights of way or attach to structures. If unavoidable, place the wire stock side and place plain wire people side to avoid injury

Avoid using firearms on or adjacent to public rights of way. Know the law before commencing a shoot in the vicinity of a public right of way. The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) publishes a Code of Good Shooting Practice.

Follow the Country code

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Local Authority Responsibilities

Suffolk County Council Responsibilities

Link to contacts page

Ensure the definitive map and statement are kept up to date

Signpost all rights of way where they leave a metalled road and provide additional signs and waymarks where necessary

Keep the surface of rights of way in good repair and manage natural surface growth, including field headlands

Ensure that farmers comply with the law that paths over cultivated land are properly restored after they have been disturbed and remain apparent on the ground thereafter

Prevent the closure or obstruction of any highway

Ensure maintenance of existing bridges and culverts and installation of new ones

Provide a 25% grant to landowners for repair or improvement of structures

Administer the Parish Paths Partnership scheme

District and Borough Council Responsibilities

Link to contacts page

District and Borough Councils exercise powers to make public path orders and agreements

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