Farmers must maintain rights of way to receive European subsidies

Countryside path

Farmers must maintain rights of way

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has reiterated that English farmers must maintain public rights of way or face losing EU subsidies.

Reviewing the Common Agricultural Policy, Owen Paterson MP said that existing requirements to keep public rights of way in good condition would continue until the next review.

The Ramblers welcomes last week’s announcement that those in receipt of subsidies must keep footpaths, bridleways and byways free from obstruction. Famers must provide stiles and gates, cut back overhanging vegetation and ensure that field-edge paths meet legal width requirements.

Although it is a criminal offence to obstruct a public right of way and CAP requirements provide an extra incentive for compliance, more needs to be done to monitor and enforce these obligations.

Ramblers Spokesperson Tom Fewins, said: “The Rural Payments Agency, the government agency responsible for administering CAP payments and carrying out inspections, should act immediately on information provided by local authorities about rights of way issues, without the need for additional inspections.”

Tom added: “In addition, we need an easy way for the public to report obstructions – when they arise - directly to the RPA using their mobile phone. This should fulfil RPA reporting requirements and reduce their administration costs.”

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is the agricultural policy of the European Union, implementing a system of agricultural subsidies to support farmers. The UK is the fifth largest recipient of CAP subsidies, with nearly 200,000 farmers receiving £3.3 billion in payments. The programme accounts for more than 40% of the EU budget.

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....."has reiterated that English farmers must maintain public rights of way or face losing EU subsidies... " What's the position in Wales???