Farmers warned about mud on roads

They risk legal action - if steps have not been taken to minimise risk of accidents.

Farmers and landowners could find themselves in a sticky situation with the law if they leave excessive mud on roads.

Insurers and legal experts warn mud can cause serious accidents and that, especially during wet weather, and that legal obligations are fully understood - to minimise the risks.

Rural insurance firm Cornish Mutual says: “Even mud from vehicles not belonging to the landowner, for example a contractor spreading muck on the fields or a milk tanker, can still be the landowner’s responsibility - if the mud came off their land and they knew about the mud and could have prevented it or cleared it up.”

Flora Wood, of Ashfords solicitors, said: “Always make sure that you agree with a contractor who is responsible for clearing up any mud.

“None of our country roads are pristine – often accidents happen without any witnesses, and landowners become aware of a claim many months later.

“By then it is difficult to prove the mud was not excessive or did not come from their land.

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“The best safeguard for farmers and landowners is to adopt a clear policy to avoid mud and stick to it.”

She added: “A written record of action taken to reduce mud is advisable for any activity involving a risk of bringing mud onto the roads.”

There are a number of preventative measures that can be taken, including making sure field gateways are well drained; hard core or chippings can be used around these areas or on farm tracks to reduce the spread of mud.

Tractor tyres can be washed down before going onto the roads and driving at lower speeds can reduce the spreading of muck and mud.

Farmers and landowners are also advised to make sure they have appropriate Public Liability insurance cover in place, should the worst happen.