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In your field: Kate Beavan - 'It's £2000 to apply to divert a footpath'

The barley is in and although we had some initial crow issues as it emerged, the trusty crow bangers have done the job and the recent rain is welcome.

Lambing has finished and there is a distinct aroma of muck in the air. All we need is bit of warmth and rain to help with grass growth.

 

Our daughter, Cel, has been holding down a full time job while studying for a psychology degree and achieving distinctions throughout. She is a people person through and through and has now made the decision to study full time and work part time to complete her degree.

 

I’m hoping she might take on our new cider business as it was on the back burner when I took the trees job on.

 

Son Sam is flat-out running his own contracting business and popped up on Radio 1 last week talking about mental health issues in agriculture. As a 400 a day sheep shearer, he is preparing for the season ahead. I am a proud mum and treasure our family time together.


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Like many farms we have footpaths across the fields but it has recently been brought to our attention that there is a right of way through our front garden, by the kitchen window and through the working farm yard.

 

Apparently in 1952 a local man walked through this private land and declared it fit to be a footpath. I’ve been told back then they did not need to consult the landowner and it is now on the definitive map.

 

After discussions with the rights of way officers, we have got the option of applying to divert the path but at a cost of £2,000, and even then it may not be successful.

 

I asked about an extinguishing order but was not encouraged to go down this route; apparently it is extremely rare to remove a path. If a route has been accessed continuously for 20 years it is automatically a right of way but if you have a path on the map and it hasn’t been used for 70 years it cannot be closed.

 

This doesn’t seem fair in my eyes. Surely the interest of the landowner should be considered alongside the overall impact on the public, especially in our current climate with rural crime at an all-time high.

 

Maybe we need to change how our local authorities respond to requests to divert or extinguish rights of way? A quicker, easier and fairer process is needed, especially when there are alternative paths very close by.

 

Surely we have a basic right to protect our family and property by not allowing public access any time, day or night? As farmers we welcome visitors and walkers with open arms on a daily basis but need an area that we can close the gate and have some peace. I don’t think this is too much to ask.

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