Mud On Roads: A Farmers Liability?
The movements of farm vehicles and machinery in and out of fields can leave deposits of mud and other materials on nearby public roads, but what steps should be taken to ensure roads are left clean and hazard free?
Harvest season is underway and the unpredictable British weather can make it a difficult time to undertake farm tasks during this busy period in the agricultural calendar. The movements of farm vehicles and machinery in and out of fields can leave deposits of mud and other materials on nearby public roads. This can cause significant hazards for other drivers and it is not always clear who is responsible for clearing up the mess.
What is the offence?
Under section 95 of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 a person commits an offence if they:
- are in charge of a vehicle on a road
- allow a quantity of ‘mud, clay, farmyard manure, or other material (of whatever nature)’ from the vehicle (or carried on the vehicle) to drop onto or be deposited on the road which would create, or be likely to create, a danger or substantial inconvenience to road users, and
- fail to remove the material as soon as reasonably practicable.
Who is “in charge” of the vehicle?
- The owner, or
- Any person in immediate charge or control of the vehicle (including employees and contractors), or
- Any person present who is entitled to give orders to the person having such charge or control.
What is “a road”?
- Any ‘way’ other than a waterway over which there is a public right of passage including the verge and any bridge or tunnel.
What is “a vehicle”?
- A vehicle of any description including a machine or implement drawn or propelled along a road. This broad definition would cover almost any kind of vehicle or machinery typically used on a farm.
What should you do?
In order to prevent any issues, farmers and landowners are advised to:
- have suitable procedures in place to keep vehicles and machinery clean and to promptly clear up any mess deposited on roadways
- ensure that employees and contractors are aware of and comply with these arrangements
- keep a record of vehicle and road cleaning measures as evidence of positive actions taken to comply with these obligations
- ensure you have comprehensive public liability insurance in place to cover you in the event of any accidents.
Finally, the roads authority is also entitled to keep the roads clear, and any action which is required to be taken to clear them can be charged to the individual responsible.
Anneli Spence is a solicitor in our specialist Land & Rural Business team. If you would like further information on this or any other matter affecting your rural property please contact Anneli on 01738 621212, email email@example.com or contact a member of our Land & Rural Business team.
Categories: Land and Rural Business