Cut-off proposed for historic rights of way claims

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Natural England has called for 2026 to become the cut-off date for historic rights of way to be recorded on the official definitive map.

If adopted, the deadline would bring an end to farmers and landowners facing claims that ancient rights of way should be reinstated on their property.

The NFU and CLA have welcomed the decision, which was put forward in a report by Natural England's Stakeholder Working Group, but both organizations have called on the government to make clear how it intends to implement the recommendation.

The 2026 cut-off date for recording rights of way created before 1 January 1949 was passed in the 2000 Countryside Rights of Way Act but has yet to be brought into force. The Act also stated that pre-1949 rights unclaimed by this deadline would be extinguished, said CLA president William Worsley.

"Natural England's acceptance of the Stakeholder Working Group's recommendations is no more than a backing of Parliament's will that an end to uncertainty on this issue is necessary," he said. "But we are very pleased the end is in sight, even though it may still be some way off," he said.

NFU president Peter Kendall said the proposals marked an end to claims coming "out of the blue" which were based on historical evidence and had no place in a modern farming business. "Any opportunity to avoid conflicts between Rights of Way and current land use will mean farmers and growers are able to focus on the primary task at hand - namely producing food and managing their land," he said. "It could also see an end to the current situation where applications for Rights of Way, which are supported by poor evidence, can end up blighting a property for many years."

I must say that I find this a very worrying aspect and one that will do away with a great many “rights of way” that could and should be opened up, once again, for their intended purpose, namely to serve as footpaths and other routes linking villages and towns.

Such “rights of way”, instead of being done away with, should be turned into a network of routes that could then enable people to, maybe, once again, use their feet or their cycles to get from village to village instead of clogging up the roads with unnecessary vehicular traffic.

Alas, once again, it would seem, the government under Labour has decreed in its wisdom that roads are more important than other paths and that landowners should have the right to do away with the ancient rights of the population.

The more we see of New Labour the more the Tories look left of center and almost the party of the working class.

The old fighters of the Labour movement would turn in their graves if they could but see what Blair and Brown have made out of the party they founded with blood.

© 2010