The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 increased the penalty for obstruction of the highway to include a prison sentence not exceeding 51 weeks. The increase was the government’s response to obstruction of the highway by protesters, but insertion in Section 137 of the Highways Act 1980 extends the penalty to obstruction of any public right of way, which would seem to be an unintended consequence benefiting Ramblers 🙂
Local authorities have always been very reluctant to prosecute landowners who obstruct footpaths claiming there’s no point. Imagine the deterrent effect of a few developers or landowners being banged up for a few months? Tough on crime and all that….