ARCHIVE: Cross compliance monitoring: GAEC 8 Rights of Way
The aim of GAEC 8 requirements is to keep open and accessible public rights of way because they are important landscape features. They apply to any visible public rights of way located on farmland.
Farmers must not disturb the surface of a right of way so that it becomes inconvenient to pass over it nor must they wilfully obstruct the free passage along a public right of way. They must maintain any stile, gate or similar structure across a footpath or bridleway in a condition that makes it safe and reasonably easy to use, make good the surface of a disturbed cross-field footpath or bridleway to not less than the minimum width within 14 days of the first disturbance if sowing a crop, or within 24 hours in all other circumstances, and indicate the route of a reinstated cross-field footpath or bridleway to members of the public.
Low non-compliance rates from the inspection data suggest that farmers are aware of their obligations for public rights of way.
There has been a Best Value Performance Indicator (BVPI) for Local Authorities on the ease of use of public rights of way since 2001/02. However, from April 2008, this will no longer be a BVPI.
In 2006/07 the average percentage (unweighted over all English Local Authorities) of footpath lengths classed as easy to use was just under 80%, having increased in each of the previous three years.
"Public right of way" is a term that includes: footpaths; bridleways; restricted byways; and byways open to all traffic.
"Easy to use" means rights of way that are:
- Signposted where they leave the road in acordance with section 27 of the countryside Act 1968 and to the extent necessary to allow users to follow the path;
- Free from unlawful obstructions or other interference, (including overhanging vegetation) to the public's right of passage;
- Surface and lawful barriers (eg stiles, gates) in good repair and to the standard necessary to enable the public to use the way without any undue inconvenience.
It is recognised that there are several drawbacks to using this dataset to monitor the impact of cross compliance. In terms of coverage, the data include footpaths that do not traverse agricultural land. As part of Local Government reform, there will no longer be a local authority performance indicator for Rights of Way from 1 April 2008.
Authorities are required to use the County Surveyors Society (CSS) methodology as a benchmark standard which is based on a minimum 5% random sample of lengths of rights of way (although in the first years of this indicator not all did so). For each authority, the percentage is calculated as the lengths of footpaths that are easy to use as a proportion of the total length of footway. In calculating the England, County and Unitary aggregates, there is no weighting for individual local authorities. Each London Borough therefore has the same weight as, say, North Yorkshire within the English aggregate.
A printable version of this page is available in pdf format.
Further information on cross compliance can be found on the CAP cross compliance internet site.
Further information on Best Value Performance Indicators can be found on the Audit Commission internet site.
You can email the Observatory Programme Team at: email@example.com.
Page last modified: 10 November, 2010
Page published: August, 2008