Public Rights of Way – Landowners should protect themselves

Published On: June 13th, 2024Categories: Uncategorized

As a result of Covid we are seeing much more public activity on our existing public rights of way (PROW) network. It is wonderful that more and more people are enjoying our beautiful countryside but landowners need to be prudent that walkers and other PROW users are sticking to the correct routes to avoid new rights of way being created or claimed in the future.  As increasing areas of farmland are being taken out of production and entered into agri-environment schemes more and more walkers are straying ‘off the beaten path’.

We have represented several landowners where claims from nearby residents have been lodged with the local authority requesting adoption of new rights of way across their property.  The process for adopting a new PROW is long and complicated, but local authorities do seem increasingly empathetic towards users who’s claims are not challenged.  Once such applications are lodged defending your position as a landowner is costly and time consuming.

However, under section 31 (6) of the Highways Act 1980 there is a relatively straightforward process through which landowners can help protect themselves from claims for Public Rights of Way by depositing a map, statement and declaration to the local authority.   Once this statement has been lodged with the local authority it provides strong protection against claims from the date at which it is accepted for a period of 10 years (to be increased to 20 years from September 2024).  Lodging this deceleration does not provide protection retrospectively and we encouraging all landowners to undertake this quick and easy step to protect their assets as soon as possible.

For more information on how we can help please get in touch.

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