Public Footpaths: Repairs and Maintenance

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 16th September 2020.

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Photo of Lord Birt Lord Birt Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment, if any, they have made of the condition of public footpaths in England and Wales; and in particular whether (1) signposts, waymarks, bridges and stiles are effectively maintained on public rights of way, and (2) crops are being planted on fields without marking the route of public rights of way.

Photo of Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lord Gardiner of Kimble The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Local authorities are responsible for the management and maintenance of public rights of way. They are required to keep a Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP) to plan improvements to the rights of way network in their area, which are usually available on the authority’s website. This must include an assessment of the local rights of way including the condition of the network.

Deferring the 2026 cut-off date for registration of historic rights of way is a possibility, which would create more time for the reforms to rights of way legislation to be implemented effectively. We must weigh this against the desire for certainty around where rights of way exist, which implementing the cut-off date will bring. Officials intend to meet the rights of way reform Stakeholder Working Group soon and will discuss this issue with them and others before we come to a decision.

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