The Open Spaces Society trustee and local correspondent, Peter Newman, has reported on his work to open up illegally obstructed rights of way in Powys:

“There are many areas in Powys where the rights of way network in largely inaccessible because of large scale obstruction by illegal wire and barbed wire fences. Powys County Council is largely ineffective at opening up the bridleway and footpath network as it will only work in one parish in an area at a time, ignoring all the other communities.

As a last resort, and in order to try and open up some routes for walkers and riders, I have been serving Section 130A notices on the council which is having some effect.

The Welsh Assembly Government provided me with a copy of a Guidance Note they had issued covering the removal of obstructions under Section 130 of the 1980 Highways Act as inserted by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. This guidance stated that inadequately maintained gates and stiles could not be dealt with as obstructions and needed to be addressed by the local authority under Section 56 of the Highways Act 1980 (highways out of repair). Clearly that was not the case as stiles and gates are the responsibility of the landowner who has to maintain them.

Having drawn this to the attention of the Welsh Government, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a response advising me that the guidance is being amended and will be circulated to all local authorities in Wales – a very satisfactory outcome.”