Duties and responsibilities

Liability and enforcement

We take legal action against landowners or tenants who create a source of danger either on or next to the road.  You may be liable for a substantial compensation claim which might not be covered by your insurance policy if you fail to comply with highway legislation or take adequate precautions.

Sources of danger can include the placing of concrete blocks, stones, metal spikes or boards advertising the sale of farm produce on the verge.

We try to help you meet your legal obligations without incurring unnecessary expense.  If we do need to take formal legal action, we always aim to be fair, open and consistent.

Cleaning of mud and spoil

Mud left on the road by farm animals and farm machinery causes danger and inconvenience to other road users.

You must clean roads and footways promptly and regularly to prevent a build-up of mud (or spilt materials).  Failure to do so is an offence under the County Council’s Bylaw No 27 and under the Highways Act 1980, which creates a number of offences in relation to mud or other material deposited on highways.  The Police also have powers to force removal of mud from roads.

Mud on the highway must cleaned up at least daily.  Warning signs should be erected while you work, and removed on completion.  We have to clean up muddy roads, we have the power to charge and prosecute those responsible.

Muddy roads warning road sign

  • Programme and organise your work to prevent mud from being brought on to the road
  • Clean mud from vehicles, as far as is practicable, before they are taken onto the road
  • If necessary, clean the road during the working day and always at the end of the working day
  • Ensure that labour and equipment is available and suitable for soil and weather conditions
  • Be prepared to hire in equipment – check availability in advance
  • Keep to your own farm roads and minor roads whenever possible
  • Keep to low speeds – especially when travelling short distances – to keep mud on the vehicle
  • Undertake a risk assessment and keep a record

Barbed wire

Barbed wire must not cause a nuisance to or endanger the highway.  Where possible place the barbed wire on the field side of the posts and protect the public by placing a plain wire strand along the roadside.

Farm gates

Gates must open into the field and not onto the roadside verge or highway.  On no account must a gate be erected across a public highway.

Damage to the highway

Verges and footpaths are not part of the road and must not be used as such.  Ruts and other damage are dangerous for pedestrians, horses and other road users.

Over-riding verges can damage drainage features including gullies, drains, ditches and grips.  Cables, water mains and other underground apparatus can also be damaged.

On narrow roads, wide vehicles can erode the bank and verge, leaving mud on the road and may damage the edge of the road surface.

Fire and straw burning

It is an offence to light a fire on or over a highway or on adjoining land, if doing so interrupts use of the highway or endangers road users.  If a fire spreads close enough to the highway to cause injury, interruption or damage to a user of the highway, it can be an offence.

The burning of straw is prohibited by law, except in limited circumstances.  Where it is allowed, detailed restrictions are imposed, including a requirement that no burning can take place within 100m of any dual carriageway or ‘A’ class roads.

Irrigation pipes, wires and cables

You need a licence to install pipes, wires or cables that pass under or over the road or highway verge.  We can advise you who to contact to find out about the presence of gas and electricity mains before you start work.