Wicklow Uplands Council calls for ‘clear message’ to be sent out to landowners following court judgement

By: William O’Toole

Wicklow Uplands Council have said that growing concerns from landowners following the decision to award a hillwalker  €40,000 following a fall on the Wicklow Way needs to be addressed.

The Council, which has been instrumental in fostering good relations between landowners and walkers for the past 20 years have said that people need to realise that the decision in question was based on very specific circumstances.

A spokesperson for the council said that landowners were becoming more concerned and a ‘very clear message’ needs to be sent out to address these concerns.

“The judgement was based on section 4(4) of the Occupiers Liability Act, which states that there is higher duty of care placed on landowners where a structure has been put in place for use primarily by recreational users.

“On this basis the Judge ruled that the boardwalk was put in place primarily for recreational users and consequently there was a higher duty of care on the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to maintain this structure.”

The Council have said that since the judgement, there has been a great level of concern raised by landowners who have gates and stiles on their land and they are worried that a similar incident could happen to them.

“Landowners need to be clear on this, if these structures were put in place primarily for accessibility of the landowner and not primarily for recreational users then a higher duty of care does not apply.

A spokesperson for the council also said that all outdoor activities come with a ‘certain degree’ of risk.

“We would be advising recreational users that they need to take responsibility to prepare for such risks.”

Last week, a East Wicklow landowner told wicklownews.net that he was considering closing his land off to the public following the court case.

However, he has since been in contact with Wicklow Uplands Council and he now says that most of his concerns have been addressed.

“I spoke to them (Wicklow Uplands Council) and they explained the situation fully to me and I don’t think I would now have a problem with people continuing to walk on my land.”

 

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