Fines for farmers who close footpaths

6 July 2001

Fines for farmers who close footpaths

By Nigel Burnham

TRADING standards officers are preparing to dish out 5000 fines to farmers who put up no entry signs on reopened footpaths.

The threat follows reports that farmers illegally reinstated footpath closed signs claiming that paths were prematurely reopened after foot-and-mouth.

A Durham County Council decision to reopen footpaths alarmed farmers in Weardale so much that 10 producers reinstated footpath closed signs.

The Ramblers Association said it supported the fines. But farmers in County Durham and North Yorkshire said the move was heavy-handed.

Robert Hicks, chairman of Malton NFU branch, said: Farmers are very stressed at the moment and do not want anyone coming near their livestock.

It seems a bit odd that when there were no outbreaks in North Yorkshire, all the paths were closed, whereas now, when we have the disease lapping at our doorstep, they have decided to open most of them up.

Stuart Pudney, head of trading standards in North Yorkshire, defended the threat of fining farmers, saying reinstating closed signs caused friction.


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