Highways, rights of way, public access

In England there are almost 120,000 miles of public rights of way.

These fall into four categories: footpaths over which the right of way is on foot only; bridleways which can be used by walkers, riders and cyclists; restricted byways (mostly former roads used as public pathways, or RUPPS) which can be used by all types of traffic except mechanically propelled vehicles; and byways open to all traffic (BOATS) on which all vehicles are permitted but which in practice are mainly used in the same way as footpaths and bridleways.

Within these categories there is potential for local conflict between different users and between users and owners.

Strutt & Parker is able to effectively assist land owners and managers with public rights of way issues, proposed diversions (for example, for crime prevention or protection of a site of special scientific interest) and defending claims for new paths.

North of the border, the legal position is very different, but Strutt & Parker is equally well placed to protect our Scottish clients' interests within the access provisions of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.

The Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act was introduced by the last government to give greater public access to the countryside. We won 99% of appeals against CROW lodged on our clients' behalf in 2000, the year the Act came into being. The current government is planning a review of the Act and, with a wealth of experience and expertise in this field, we are ready to advise on the new review.

The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 introduced a new right of access around the English coastline. (Wales is making its own arrangements and legislation differs slightly in Scotland where access is a devolved power.) Coastal access provisions introduced a continuous 4m wide walking route around the coast and a right for the public to access a margin of land either side. Consideration needs to be given to how Natural England might align the route in relation to your particular coastal landform type. Only a small number of land uses will be excepted from the right-of-access.

Strutt & Parker is well-placed to assist you in mitigating the impact of the Act on your land and businesses, wherever you are on the UK coastline.

For more information on rights of way and public access, get in touch using this form.


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Land Business Spring 2015


James Farrell
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