Rachael Hughes, Managing Partner at PCB Solicitors, argues a recent landmark Court of Appeal verdict, which upheld a farmer’s right of way for agricultural purposes, shows the need for landowners to tread carefully when planning any alterations or obstructions that could ‘substantially interfere’ with access.
“The case in question saw the landowners build a fence and wall which significantly narrowed a gateway that a farmer had right of way to drive across to bale hay,” Rachael explained. “Once the fence was in position, the farmer could no longer access the field with his tractor and conventional baler, so naturally he applied for an injunction for the fence to be removed.”
An initial application was turned down by a judge. The farmer could not prove a ‘substantial interference’ was caused to his right of way, after it was shown that it would be relatively easy to access the field using a smaller, more modern baler. However, the Court of Appeal found in favour of the farmer.
Rachael commented: “The Court defined a farmer’s right of way by reference to the purpose for which he exercised that right – in this case accessing land to bale hay – rather than by referring to the type of vehicle used. It also stated that simply because more modern machinery – which would of course fit through the narrower gateway – was available, it was entirely reasonable for the farmer to continue to produce small bales using his current baler, and the obstruction was clearly causing a ‘substantial interference’.
“This ruling shows that if someone has a right of access over a piece of land and the owner is considering partially obstructing it, it’s crucial they think long and hard about what could or couldn’t be regarded as ‘reasonable access’ to avoid falling foul of the law.”
PCB Solicitors LLP is a modern partnership, with offices in Shrewsbury, Broseley, Church Stretton, Craven Arms, Knighton, Ludlow, Telford, and Worcester. While they have origins back to 1860, the firm is forward-looking and offers a full range of legal advice for both individuals and businesses, including property, family advice and childcare matters, wills, trusts, probate and estate planning, accident and personal injury, litigation, criminal law and corporate and business law.
For further information about PCB Solicitors’ complete range of legal services, please contact the Shrewsbury Head office on 01743 248148 or visit the website www.pcblaw.co.uk.
Member since: 23rd February 2012
PCB Solicitors LLP are a modern law firm with a full range of legal services for both commercial and private clients. We aim to stand out from the crowd by providing consistent quality, value for money...