Changes afoot for public rights of way

Tony Gosling tony at
Sat Jun 23 21:00:23 BST 2012

Changes afoot for public rights of way
May 15, 2012 | Filed under: News | Posted by: Editor
New proposals to modernise the process of 
recording rights of way, developed in 
consultation with groups such as the Ramblers and 
Country Land and Business Association, have been 
unveiled by Environment Minister, Richard Benyon.
Plans are expected to cut the time taken to 
record a right of way by as much as several 
years, so that routes set to be lost in 2026 can 
be preserved. All unrecorded footpaths and 
bridleways created before 1949 cannot be recorded 
after 1 January 2026. This ‘cut off’ date by 
which to claim these historical rights of way was 
set in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.
As well as making it easier for walkers, horse 
riders and cyclists to protect unrecorded rights 
of way, the proposed system is expected to save 
almost £20 million a year by cutting needless bureaucracy.
No changes are being made to the protections for 
rights of way; rather proposals have been made to 
make the process of recording or changing them more efficient.
Landowners’ applications to move a right of way 
will continue to be approved only if they do not 
affect the public’s enjoyment of it, in which 
case it will be more straightforward for landowners to see them through.
Under logical new plans, paths and trails that 
are used by the public will be easier to protect, 
whilst redundant routes and unsubstantiated 
rights of way claims will be prevented from 
getting in the way of farming and business interests.
Environment Minister, Richard Benyon said: 
Footpaths, bridleways and trails are the 
life-blood for many rural communities, providing 
access to our world-renowned landscapes. Our 
changes will help protect access for the 
thousands of people who walk, ride and cycle in the countryside every week.
Protecting and improving access to the 
countryside is the latest in a programme of 
Government measures to grow the rural economy. 
These routes have huge benefits to the health and 
wellbeing of those that use them and can help 
stimulate the local economy, bringing in more visitors to enjoy rural areas.
A £2 million grant fund has opened for 
applications from local communities today to 
improve access to rural areas in ways that will grow the regional economy.
The Paths for Communities initiative is part of 
the Government’s £165 million Rural Economy 
Growth Review announced in November 2011. Local 
volunteer groups are invited to bid for funding 
to create new rights of way or increase the 
accessibility of existing ones. This may include 
making rights of way accessible for horses and 
bikes, improving way marking, creating maps and 
making better links with local transport services and tourist destinations.
The proposals in the rights of way consultation 
are based on recommendations from a Stakeholder 
Working Group, which issued the following statement:
We welcome this consultation package, which 
builds on the Stakeholder Working Group 
recommendations, and are keen to continue to work 
constructively with the Government throughout the 
consultation and implementation process.
Andrew Willoughby of the Harrogate and 
Knaresborough ramblers associated commented:
As Ramblers footpath secretary for Harrogate and 
Knaresborough I will now have to study this legislation in detail.
But legislation is not the problem. There are big 
problems with public rights of way, and we need 
action to improve the thousands of paths 
obstructed by fences, crops and lots of other obstructions.
Putting time and money into this legislation does 
not overcome the real problem of obstructed 
paths, which is due to a lack of commitment and 
funds at County Council level, not due to legislation.
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