If compiling a dictionary of modern phrases describing agitated states of mind, one could certainly add ‘fence fury’ to ‘road rage’, as the humble fence certainly seems to provoke a heightened state of emotion in otherwise gentle folk.
Only last week, locals in South Gloucestershire railed against a fence aimed at keeping badgers out of an alpaca farm, which the owners erected in a bid to halt the spread of bovine TB. In this case, it was not that anyone disputed ownership of the boundary, just that the fence has shut off a public right of way.
Other stories concerning fence disputes recently include a woman who was taken to court accused of criminal damage for whitewashing her own side of her neighbour’s fence and a man who was taken to court for sawing off the top of a fence post and causing less than £8 of damage.
Of course, there are many other ways to mark a boundary, from planting trees to hedges but whatever the method, if the border is in the wrong place then tempers are sure to get frayed.
In the case of the anti-badger fence, the council has a statutory duty to ensure that public rights of way are kept clear of obstructions. If a public right of way is found to have been obstructed, then the council can ask the landowner to remove the obstruction or, if the obstruction is longstanding and not deliberate, to apply for a diversion order.
However, in the case of a fence being in the wrong place, the matter may not be so clear cut. The main thing to remember, however, is not to take the law into your own hands, like the fence post lopper, as boundary disputes can become extraordinarily complicated.
If in doubt, call a lawyer, who can help you settle your dispute with as little damage as possible to your purse and your equilibrium.
Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London
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