MOD launches film to urge public to Respect the Range

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), the part of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) which manages military land, today launched a film to urge the public stay safe when accessing military training areas.

Featuring the views of regular users of military training areas, the hard-hitting film is part of Respect the Range, a public safety campaign to protect the public and soldiers, and limit disruption to military training.

The campaign, which is targeting Salisbury Plain and Aldershot initially before being rolled out further, aims to raise the public’s awareness and understanding of the very real risks to personal safety when using military land.

The new film features visitors discussing how they use the land, as well as military personnel and DIO training safety staff sharing the, sometimes unseen, dangers they can face. These risks include live firing, unexploded ordnance and fast-moving military vehicles. In recent years training estate staff have reported  an increase in visitors straying from public footpaths and rights of way on military training areas, endangering their own lives as well as anyone who is with them, including children and pets.

Accessing the military estate when and where it is not safe to also puts Service personnel at risk, and often interrupts vital training exercises, impacting on the Armed Forces’ ability to prepare to deploy in real-life situations.   

The recent Covid-19 restrictions have made it more likely that people are exploring their local area, including military land, for the first time. As new visitors to the land, it is vitally important that they understand and appreciate the risks to their personal safety.

To protect themselves and stay safe while using military land, visitors are being asked to make sure they check training times before they travel and to observe safety information including red flags, signs and byelaws while they are there.

Brigadier Jonathan Bartholomew, DIO’s Head of Overseas Region and the Defence Training Estate, said:

The MOD supports access to military land and respects the public’s enthusiasm for wanting to explore it. In return, this campaign asks everyone to respect the very real dangers associated with doing so. Whether they’re dog walkers, mountain bikers or ramblers, everyone must stick to public access routes and check live training and firing times before heading out.

If a red flag is flying then access to that area is prohibited, as some form of training will be taking place. By abiding by these simple rules, everyone has a part to play in helping to ensure that we can all enjoy the land safely, and the military can train uninterrupted.

For more information on accessing the training estate safely, see Accessing the training estate safely – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Access Across Military Ranges

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) which manages MoD land is running a social media campaign to advise users of access across military training ranges on how to use access safely and appropriately. If your authority has a training range within its area the DIO have asked if you may be able to run some social media posts based on their “toolkit” on the following dates:

March 29
April 1
April 26-30
Through May

Wording that can be used:

We are keen to support this incredibly important public safety campaign. It is important that people enjoy the outdoors safely by sticking to the approved rights of way and public access areas. This couldn’t be more essential than when accessing military land where there are very real risks to personal safety. Stay safe and please Respect the Range. You can also check the training times online before you visit.

Read the DIO Toolkit…

Environmental Impact Assessment: Appraising Access

There are already guides to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, but what has been unavailable until now (2020) is a specific guide to how public rights of way or wider outdoor access resources should be assessed.

IPROW have now published a new guide setting out the standards of investigation and consideration that are deemed to meet best practice, aiding the work of access officers, developers, interested parties and Examining Authorities. This guide has been developed by Mike Furness MIPROW and others.

This file is available to all members from this member’s only link.

Non-members may purchase hard copies online via this link.

Non-members may purchase PDF copies by emailing iprow@iprow.co.uk

Defra message to stakeholders on Covid-19 020420

UPDATE 17 April: Government advice remains as at 3 April (below). Defra’s stay local video is now on Twitter and on Facebook.  The NPCC, Home Office and No.10 have agreed to retweet, and NPCC will ask police forces to share from Twitter and Facebook.  The latest No.10 script reiterates the ‘stay local’ message.

Note: This message was revised several times by Defra during Friday 3 April; here is the final version.

There is an extract from the advice on GOV.uk; it won’t be published in its full form as here, however, please be assured that this is genuinely from Defra.

Public Rights of Way under the Highways Act 1980 and use of Access Land under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000: Covid-19

The government’s priority is to save lives and the best way to protect yourself and others from illness is to stay at home.

However, exercise is still important for people’s physical and mental wellbeing, so the government has said people can leave their homes for exercise once a day.

NFU and CLA have told us that some landowners are still concerned about increased use of public rights of way on their property increasing the risk to livestock, such as instances of gates being left open and dogs not being controlled.

To help address this we will publish a supplementary video on social media in advance of this weekend, reminding people to follow the Countryside Code. This will be published on Twitter @DefraGovUK and Defra’s Facebook page.  We encourage you to share this with your members and networks.

Finally, further concerns have been raised by stakeholders that the use of public rights of way that run through gardens, farmyards and schools is increasing the risk of exposure to the coronavirus to residents and farm workers.

The risk of the coronavirus being passed on to others from people using public rights of way and other paths and trails is considered to be very low as long as people follow the Government’s instructions to maintain social distancing.

Landowners do not have the legal right to block or obstruct public rights of way or access land. However, in very limited circumstances where large numbers of people are using such routes, landowners may consider the following measures:

  • tying gates open if it is safe to do so, so that walkers do not need to touch the gate.
  • temporarily displaying polite notices that encourage users to respect local residents and workers by following social distancing guidelines and consider using alternative routes that do not pass through gardens, farmyards or schools.
  • Note: this is a polite request only, and there is no power under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW) or the Highways Act 1980 for landowners to close or obstruct a public right of way or use of access land
  • offering an alternative route around gardens and farmyards only where it is safe to do so (you must gain permission from relevant landowners and make sure the route is safe for users and livestock) provided that the original right of way is maintained.

Key points to Note under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and the Highways Act 1980

  • Under Section 137 the Highways Act 1980 and section 14 of CROW it is an offence to obstruct the free passage along a public right of way or Access Land.
  • It is an offence under Section 57 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 to display a notice that contains “any false or misleading statement likely to deter the public from using” a right of way.
  • It is also an offence under section 14 of CROW to display a sign which deters the public from exercising their right to use that access land
  • It is an offence under Section 132 of the Highways Act 1980 to display on the surface of a public right of way or on any tree or structure within the public right of way any unauthorised sign or mark.
  • Land owners may be liable for personal injury under section 2 of the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 and Section 1 of the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984 if they are reckless or intend to create a risk – for example by offering a dangerous alternative.

This means that

  • If a land owner offers an alternative route, they must ensure that it is safe to use and that the existing right of way or use of access land is maintained so that users with differing abilities have a choice.
  • A notice must not imply that there is any doubt about the use of the existing right of way or use of access land.

These temporary measures must be lifted as soon as social distancing measures are relaxed.

For requests to the public to use an alternative path

Public right of way Coronavirus (COVID-19)

This path passes through a private garden/working farmyard/working stables.

An alternative and safe permitted path is available to maintain social distancing and protect residents and local communities.

If you wish to use the alternative route please follow the way markers along this temporary route.

In line with Defra and Public Health England advice:

Maintain social distancing requirements –

Ensure you keep at least 2 metres away from other people

Hand wash/sanitise after touching any shared surfaces, e.g. stiles/gates.

Keep dogs on a lead around livestock and away from other people/dogs.

Leave gates as you find them.

For paths with no possible alternative

Public right of way Coronavirus (COVID-19)

This path crosses through farmland & close to local peopleʼs homes and their families.

In line with Defra and Public Health England Advice:

Maintain social distancing requirements –

Ensure you keep at least 2 metres away from other people.

Hand wash/sanitise after touching any shared surfaces e.g. stiles/gates.

Keep dogs on a lead near livestock and away from other people/dogs

Leave gates as you find them.

New Welsh Farming Scheme

A new consultation on Revised proposals for supporting Welsh farmers after Brexit appears to be a more focussed agriculture financial support regime targeting enhanced environmental outcomes.

The Sustainable Farming Scheme with a farm Sustainability Review which would optionally incorporate the social values that provided opportunities to deliver social improvements such as improved access. There is mention of a separate enforcement and advisory function, providing advice to scheme entrants on statutory access management. Regulation and monitoring will be influenced by the positive parts of the UK Forestry standard. The question 5 very much covers the expectation and implementation for cross compliance.

Annex B – Actions and Opportunities Page 109 cat 4 looks at Land Management issues including action 11 rights of way enhancement ( also page 123)

The consultation closes 30 October 2019

Network Rail Level Crossing Memorandum of Understanding

We’re pleased to announce that a memorandum of understanding for level crossings and public rights of way has now been agreed by representatives of IPROW, ADEPT and Network Rail.

The MOU is not intended as a solution for all issues where rights of way interact with railways, but it provides a strong foundation on which discussion with Network Rail can be built in each case.

You can view the document here.