Farmland occupancy and rights of access

30th March 2022

Farmland by its very nature can be used in a variety of different ways.  People who are not the legal owner of the land may need access or rights over it.  If you are an owner or occupier of land, it is crucial that you take legal advice before allowing anyone to use your land so as to ensure that the correct legal documentation is in place before the use begins and that you do not inadvertently create unintended rights without even realising it, the legal consequences of which could be far reaching.   Rights over land can include rights of access which include rights of way and easements such as easements for services to run under or over land and land drainage rights.

A right of way is right to use a particular route on someone else’s land.  These rights might be for vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.  Rights for services to run across land are known as easements.

Rights over land can include the right of statutory access for gas, electricity and water pipelines.  The High Court has said that companies which transport these services have a right of access over land even if the owner or occupier does not want them to.  This is because it is in the public interest that these services are delivered without interruption.

The public also has rights of access on all navigable rivers which means that if you own land adjoining a river, the public should be allowed to use that river for recreational purposes such as swimming.

Much of the law in the area of land management is complex and we strongly advise a landowner not to take risks and to take advice to ensure that they are aware of the legal issues involved so as to ensure their interests in the land are protected.

If you are an owner or occupier of land and someone wants to use it for a right of access or an easement for services, it is important to take legal advice to ensure that the correct legal documentation is in place.  This will ensure that both you and the user of your land are protected from any legal consequences which may arise.

If you would like advice, you can contact us on 01392 424242 or email .  We have offices in Exeter, Crediton, Okehampton, Ottery St Mary, Budleigh Salterton and Sidmouth.  Our expert Lawyers can also make home farm visits, if required.