Problems on Rights of Way
Problems and how we deal with them
We maintain most bridges on rights of way. These include timber boards over ditches and large bridges over streams. They can all can be viewed on our online map.
Trees are the responsibility of the landowner. However, we sometimes carry out works to make dangerous trees safe where possible. When reporting issues please let us know if the tree posing a risk to path users and provide photos if possible.
We are responsible for clearing any vegetation growing from the surface of the path. Landowners are responsible for cutting back hedges and trees growing from the side.
Our rangers carry out clearance during the growing season, between March and October. On average, they cover about 50–100 miles of the network.
We receive a high level of reports about overgrown paths during the summer. Paths reported to us are cleared at the earliest opportunity.
Surfaces vary greatly according to their location. Weather conditions can also affect paths. Please bear this in mind when reporting problems.
Where a problem is identified, an assessment will be carried out. If work is required it will be added to our surfacing programme. Please note there is a waiting list.
Stiles and locked gates
There are around 5,300 stiles and 6,800 gates throughout the county. Over time they can degrade and become dangerous. Gates are also sometimes locked.
The maintenance of stile and gates is the landowner’s responsibility. It can take time to identify and contact the landowner. The legal process can then take a several months. Please bear this in mind when you report an issue.
Obstructions that prevent you from using a path should be reported via our online map. They include electric fences, crops over 10cm high, dangerous structures, manure or farm machinery.
In the meantime, you are legally allowed to take a safe detour around the obstruction if one is available. As with stiles and gates, obstructions can take time to resolve.
In the path is blocked by rubbish this should be reported to the relevant District Council.
Signage reports are dealt with when we are carrying out more urgent work in the area, such as bridge repairs.
Dangerous or intimidating animals
Dangerous or intimidating animals should not be kept on a public right of way. The owner or keeper of an animal is liable for any damage or injury caused.
Bulls can only be kept on public rights of way if they are under 10 months old or are beef bulls accompanied by female cows. Bulls of a dairy breed are not allowed under any circumstances. If in any doubt, please contact the Rights of Way Team.
Cropped or ploughed fields
Where a right of way passes through a field, access can be hindered or blocked if the field is cropped or ploughed. The landowner is required to ensure the path is cleared.
During the growing season, we receive more reports of cropped and ploughed paths than we can investigate and resolve. We therefore have to prioritise action against the most regular and persistent offenders.
All reports are recorded and provide useful evidence that may allow action to be taken in the future.
Around 1% of the paths in East Sussex are classified are unavailable. Many have been historically obstructed by buildings or developments. Others are affected by legal mapping problems. For example, a path finishing at a parish boundary.
These issues are complex, and reports are treated on a case-by-case basis. They are not prioritised in the usual way.
For more information, please contact the,