Farmers are urged to take access seriously

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Local farmers are being reminded to remember their obligations regarding public rights of way and take them seriously.

Every year members of the public are injured by livestock in fields with public access routes, some seriously. Such incidents most commonly involve cows with calves and walkers with dogs.

While most farmers are well aware of their responsibilities, Emma Smith, of YoungsRPS in Alnwick, is urging farmers to check and avoid potential problems.

She said: “Now is a good time for a quick check to ensure hedgerows and vegetation are not encroaching onto paths, that temporary fences have been removed and animal feeders are sited away from paths and bridleways.

“Although the legal requirements on livestock in fields with PROW relate only to bulls, the HSE, which investigates many such incidents each year, advises that cows with calves at foot should be kept out of such fields wherever possible.”

“Existing regulation bans dairy bulls over the age of 10 months from fields with PROW and states bulls over 10 months must be accompanied by cows and heifers.

“With a number of well documented prosecutions brought in recent years where members of the public have been seriously injured or killed by farm livestock, we would always advise erring on the side of caution. Signage can be useful, but only if approved to avoid potential liability issues.”