Did you know there was a British Standard for gates and stiles? Or that landowners need consent from the authorities before they erect such structures on public paths?
No, neither did we. But the Open Spaces Society (OSS), which campaigns on access and public rights of way, points out that many stiles and gates are put up unlawfully and are unnecessary. The organisation has produced a guide to help clear clutter from the country’s rights of way.
The Government says there should be the minimum of restrictions to using footpaths and bridleways, but this is often ignored. The OSS says walkers should let their councils know when they find stiles and gates which make using a path difficult.
OSS spokesman Chris Beney, who campaigns in Hertfordshire to keep paths free from clutter, said: “For many people who are walking for pleasure, stiles and gates across public paths are a barrier. If you are arthritic, you may find it impossible to climb a stile, or to open a stiff gate. Many of these structures are unnecessary and should be removed.
“The Open Spaces Society has published an information sheet: Removing and Improving Path-Paraphernalia, which sets out how to go about identifying the structures, establishing their status and, where appropriate, getting them removed or altered.
“Some of these structures are lawful, but many are unlawful, having been erected without the consent of the highway authority.”
The law allows the building of stiles and gates for the efficient agricultural use of land, but points out the growing of crops doesn’t require such structures.
The OSS leaflet is available free to its members or for £5 for others. See the OSS website for details.