Public and livestock safety: Top tips for fencing footpaths

23 January 2023

Public bridleway sign

As more and more people head out into the countryside, keeping them and livestock safe is paramount. Erecting a fence along a public right of way might feel like a good solution, but there are some key considerations that you need to think about before you start.

Farmers, growers, and land managers across the country are experiencing a greater volume of visitors to the countryside than ever before.

The safety of members of the public and of farm animals is of utmost importance. One way in which you could help keep people and livestock safe is to use fencing along public rights of way.

Fencing along public rights of way

Whilst the increased number of visitors to the countryside provides opportunities to promote great British farming practices, it has also brought about many issues. In order to mitigate against some of these issues (eg, trespass, livestock worrying or increased level of safety if cattle are present) it may suit your farming business to erect a fence a long a footpath or public right of way.

For example, a fence may be erected to separate members of the public from livestock. For more information on livestock and public rights of way, our NFU Business Guides, which gives an overview of the considerations when grazing livestock on public rights of way. However, there are important limitations and restrictions to this that you must carefully consider beforehand to avoid any future complications.

Local authorities can help

It is important to consult your local authority public right of way fencing guidance to ensure that you understand the local policies in this area.

It is also important to consider other relevant issues which may apply, for example, on common land there are specific restrictions on the erection of fencing.

For more information read our member-only NFU Fencing footpaths briefing, which provides a brief overview of the main limitations and considerations of fencing footpaths or other public rights of way.

Professional advice

If in doubt, you should take independent professional advice regarding your specific circumstances.

NFU CallFirst can help, call: 0370 845 8458.

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