Following the two misleading articles in the Times and Sunday Times and an article in Farmers Weekly the NFU and HSE have sent the below letter to both papers to clarify the NFU & HSE position on livestock and Rights of Way. This was printed in the Times today and is expected to be printed in this weeks Farmers Weekly.
Further to your articles “Cows crush walkers in killing fields” (Sunday Times 8/11/15) and “Farmers told to protect walkers from killer cows” (The Times 09/11/15), the NFU and HSE were surprised at the unnecessarily alarmist way in which the information was presented.
Any fatal incident on a farm is a tragedy, whether it involves a farmer or member of the public, but the risk posed to members of the public by cattle is very low. Many thousands of people enjoy the countryside each year without incident.
This is an issue which farmers take very seriously, and the NFU and the Ramblers have worked together for a number of years to promote awareness of the issue and best practice, both to the farming community and the wider public. The suggestion that HSE have issued new advice telling farmers that cattle should never be kept in fields with footpaths is simply not true. HSE’s guidance for livestock keepers has existed for many years, and focuses on how farmers can manage the risks in areas where the public have access to what is first and foremost a working environment.
Walkers want to safely enjoy our beautiful countryside, but the risks need to be dealt with proportionately; no one wants to reach a position where walkers are restricted to sterile corridors of land.
Charles Sercombe, NFU Livestock Board Chair
Rick Brunt, Head of Vulnerable Workers, Agriculture, Waste and Recycling, Health and Safety Executive
HSE advice is available here.