WITH travel abroad still heavily restricted, countryside staycations are likely to be more popular than ever again this holiday season. This can come as both a blessing and a burden for rural farmers. Chris Clement, Commercial Director at H&H Insurance Brokers, is keen to outline measures you can take to ensure public safety on your land, as well as how to tackle issues such as trespassing and livelihood protection.

Longer days and milder weather have always drawn walkers to Public Right of Ways, with footfall set to increase this summer as many businesses have diversified to offer camping and glamping on site. If you have footpaths on your land, they must always be accessible and never be blocked – in fact, it is the farmer’s responsibility to ensure their upkeep, along with the safe upkeep of any gates and styles that cross them. Issues can arise when people veer off the public path, and it is at this point that they are likely trespassing.

Perhaps surprisingly, trespassing is not a criminal offence but rather a civil one, meaning police have little sway in the matter. Even with this lack of legal backing, trespassing is something which should be discouraged given how many dangers can be found on working farms, which could potentially lead to a serious accident and a claim against you. If you do have a Public Right of Way on your land, here are some simple tips to help encourage people to stick to the path: · To discourage people from unintentionally trespassing, have plenty of signage to direct people to nearby footpaths. · If you see someone walking an unleashed dog, politely ask them to put it on a lead. You can make them aware of the hazards of a working farm and particularly of the dangers canines pose to livestock. · If you offer staycations, consider including a section on where the public footpaths are as part of your welcome pack and ask guests to stick to them, reminding them of the areas they are not permitted to explore. This information could also be sent out in an email ahead of arrival, or given in leaflet form upon checking in, as well as published on your website. · If you or an employee are personally welcoming visitors, it is worth reiterating this information.

Another issue farmers might face is blocked gates. Many people don’t think twice about leaving their vehicle tucked in a gateway while they go walking but this can cause serious disruption.

Provided your insurance makes an allowance for such, farmers are legally allowed to move vehicles which are blocking gates, with the clear stipulation that they don’t damage them.

If you are to considering moving a vehicle, be sure to check with your insurance that you’re covered for this practice. Again, signage could help to mitigate this issue happening in the first instance.

Greater footfall means a greater likelihood of litter, which can cause practical issues as well as being unsightly. This poses a considerable threat to animals, particularly cattle and horses, who can end up with injuries such as a punctured stomach which can prove fatal.

Some insurance policies will cover you for such an event, but not all do.