A RURAL watchdog has urged farmers to ensure that their cultivation work does not interfere with rights of way across their land.
The Country Land and Business Association is contacting farmers in the area to remind them that footpaths on their land must remain open and unobstructed while they work.
As spokesman for the association, which has several members in the Ashbourne area, has issued advice along with the reminder to avoid causing problems for walkers.
Midlands regional director Caroline Bedell said: “Ploughing and cultivation are a necessary part of farming, but can sometimes cause problems for walkers.
“While farmers do have a statutory right to plough certain rights of way, it applies only to cross field footpaths and bridleways over agricultural land, and not to field edge paths.
“The surface must be made good to at least the minimum width within 14 days of the first disturbance or within 24 hours of any subsequent cultivation.
“The problem is that, apart from the risk of being prosecuted and fined, every blocked footpath damages the reputation of the industry and puts visitors off coming to the countryside and spending money here.
“We owe it to our visitors to make them feel welcome; likewise we would expect them to respect the Countryside Code and remember that the countryside is a working environment.”