Villagers were up in arms this week about the landowner’s “scorched earth” attack on the field to the west of the village pond which wiped out a substantial stretch of the ancient Coffin Path.
Parish and local councillors were inundated with calls for action from concerned villagers outraged at the destruction and desecration of the village’s heritage. In the meantime, at the risk of sprained ankles, villagers continued to walk the line the path had for centuries followed.
Whilst there is a statutory right for the occupier of land to plough or otherwise disturb a right of way under the Rights of Way Act 1990, the occupier must thereafter make good the surface to not less than its minimum width and indicate the line of the path.
Villagers were heartened to hear on Friday that following representations to the Borough Council the landowner had been instructed to fulfil those obligations for the Coffin Path (footpath 13). Similar action needs also to be taken to restore the section of footpath 10 which has been destroyed.
And, of course, villagers must remain vigilant in the event the landowner may prevaricate or may mount another attack on these paths or other paths in the future. The landowner has been asked to contact the Borough Council if they intended to cultivate any more Public Rights of Way in the area in order that they can be advised of locations and widths.
Watch out too for the Conservation Area report due to be issued for consultation sometime this year, which will be an opportunity once more to stress the importance of the preservation of the Coffin Path as part of the village’s heritage, and hopefully that can then be enshrined in conservation requirements to be observed in the future.