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Activities on Rights of Way

Firearms (section 161 of the Highways Act 1980 and section 19 of the Firearms Act 1968)

  • It is not a specific offence to shoot across a right of way, although to do so may amount to a common law nuisance or intimidation depending on the circumstances. It is an offence to discharge a firearm within 50 feet of the centre of a carriageway It is also an offence to have loaded airgun or any other firearm (loaded and unloaded) with ammunition in a public place unless the person has lawful authority or a reasonable excuse

Driving a motor vehicle on footpath, bridleway or restricted byway (section 34 of the Road Traffic Act 1988)

  • It is an offence to drive a motor vehicle on a footpath, bridleway or restricted byway without 'lawful' authority. Lawful authority can be interpreted as having the consent of the owner of the land.


  • If a person is on private land when access rights or other public access arrangements do not apply or they fail to comply with any conditions attached to their access on that land, an owner has the right to claim that the person is a trespasser. In most cases this will be a civil matter. Trespass on certain land such as around railways, airports, ports and military land may be a criminal matters.

Litter & Fly Tipping (section 86 & 89 of the Environmental Protection act 1990)

  • Responsibility for litter clearance on rights of way rests with the District Council for the area. If a path is completely blocked as a result of fly-tipping and it is causing an obstruction then we also have a duty to act.

Dogs on Rights of Way (section 1(2) of the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953)

  • Dogs must be kept under close control, especially in the presence of livestock. Trespass is committed if an owner allows a dog to run off the line of the public path, without the permission of the landowner.
  • Dogs and Livestock: It is an offence to allow a dog to attack or chase livestock. It is a defendable action for a farmer to shoot a dog caught attacking or worrying (chasing) livestock
  • The Council advises path users to be responsible for their own safety when walking a dog in the presence of livestock. Cows with calves can be aggressive towards dogs and the owner may be safer if the dog can run free. Steers, heifers and horses may also be aggressive towards dogs, but are more likely to approach people out of curiosity.
  • Dogs and Sheep: It is an offence to allow a dog to be at large in the presence of sheep. ‘At large’ means not on a lead or otherwise under close control.
  • The Council advises path users to always keep a dog on a lead in the presence of sheep.
  • Encourage responsible dog walking: If you have a field with public access, where stock is not being kept, consider designating a dog exercise area to encourage responsible dog walking on your other public paths. Publicise through the Parish Council or notices on site.