NEW Government guidance on public rights of way have been issued to farmers.

It follows concerns raised by many of the county’s farmers on the amount of people taking to the countryside amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Some of the issues raised included an increased use of footpaths that run through, or close to, farmyards and gardens which could put people who live and work in rural areas at risk, as well as an increased risk to livestock and newborn lambs due to more people walking dogs in the countryside.

Following lobbying by the National Farmers Union (NFU), Defra has provided the option for farmers to offer alternative routes and has issued notices for farmers to put up to alert the public to the guidance so that everyone can remain safe.

Farm leaders have pointed out that the guidance clarifies that rights of way network remains open and farmers and landowners should not unlawfully obstruct or restrict footpaths.

However, where large numbers of people are using such routes, the guidance offers some measures landowners may take and these include: Tying gates open if it is safe to do so, so that walkers do not need to touch the gate and offering a permissive alternative route around gardens and farmyards only where it is safe to do so.