Sustainable Farming and Our Land: Revised proposals for supporting Welsh farmers after Brexit

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Brexit has presented a unique opportunity to reinvent Agricultural Policy, and the Welsh Government is now consulting on how public money should be used to support land managers. 

Most of Wales’s 20,750 miles of public rights of way cross agricultural land, which accounts for almost 90% of land use in Wales.

Ramblers Cymru have long been campaigning for agricultural support payments to be linked to good quality public access.  We are pleased to see that our voice has been heard, and the Government is now proposing a scheme which recognises countryside access as an important public benefit. You can read about their plans here.

Those benefits being delivered, however, is dependent on landowners fulfilling their duty of care of the path network.

Landowners are currently under the obligation to:

  •  Maintain all furniture (except furniture over water crossings, signposts and waymarks) on public rights of way.
  • Ensure no public right of way is obstructed by vehicles, bales, manure heaps, locked gates, barbed wire or anything else placed on the path to deter use. This includes signs like ‘private keep out’.

  • Only plough over a public right of way if it cannot be avoided. After any ploughing of a path, its surface needs to be made good within 24 hours, unless it is a particular crop, which allows 14 days

  • Maintain hedges and trees adjacent or over the path. This includes fallen trees and branches hanging over the path.

  • Ensure there is no animal known to be dangerous on the path or preventing free passage. A landowner is liable for any injury caused by such.

  • If a landowner damages the surface of a path, it is their responsibility to restore the path to a condition suitable for the public use it receives.

Ramblers Cymru remain very concerned that Welsh Government has not made it clear that a land manager’s compliance with their all legal duties will be an essential condition for entitlement to public financial support.  

Therefore, we are asking for any regulations and rules accompanying the new Welsh agricultural payments plan to include highway laws and to ensure land owner responsibilities towards rights of way are enforced.

This consultation is now closed, we will publish our full response in due course.

If you want any further information about Ramblers Cymru's response to the consultation, please email cerddwyr@ramblers.org.uk