Chwilio Deddfwriaeth

Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000

Sections 34 to 39: Means of Access

52.Chapter III sets out the arrangements for access to be secured or improved to access land. It allows the access authority (which is defined in section 1 as the highway authority or, in National Parks, the National Park authority) to seek agreement with landowners for the creation or safeguarding of means of access, or in default of such agreement, to secure the means of access by carrying out any necessary works themselves.

53.Section 34 defines a means of access for the purposes of this Chapter. It includes an opening in a fence, wall, hedge or gate on the land, or a construction (such as a stile or bridge) which allows the public to cross such a feature or any watercourse.

54.Section 35 sets out the circumstances in which an access authority may make an agreement with an owner or occupier in relation to means of access on their land. These are where the authority consider that an existing means of access needs to be opened up, improved, repaired or maintained, or a new means of access needs to be constructed. The authority may also make an agreement with a landowner to impose restrictions on any change to an existing means of access. Subsection (2) allows the authority to agree to carry out the works themselves, or to pay for the owner or occupier to do so. The authority may also make payments in consideration of the owner or occupier’s agreement to restrictions.

55.Section 36 sets out the action the authority may take if the owner or occupier fails to carry out his obligations under the agreement. Where the agreement was for the owner or occupier to carry out work to an agreed timetable (or in reasonable time, if no timetable is stipulated in the agreement), the authority may, after giving at least 21 days’ notice, carry out the work themselves. The authority may recover any costs incurred less any contribution which they were themselves to make under the agreement.

56.Where the agreement was for the owner or occupier to observe a restriction, and he fails to abide by that agreement, the authority may serve a notice requiring him to carry out work to remedy the breach of the restriction, within not fewer than 21 days. If the landowner fails to comply with the notice, the authority may carry out any work specified in the notice. Any costs incurred by the authority in carrying out the work may be recovered from the owner or occupier who entered into the agreement.

57.Section 37 sets out procedures which an access authority may follow if it considers that it cannot enter into an agreement on reasonable terms with a landowner to secure a means of access to the land. It may serve on the owner or occupier a notice stating its intention, after a period of at least 21 days, to carry out work to provide the means of access. The authority must serve a copy of the notice on any other owner or occupier of the land.

58.Section 38 allows for an appeal to the Secretary of State (or the National Assembly for Wales) against a notice from an access authority alleging the breach of an agreement imposing restrictions (under section 36(3)) or requiring the creation or safeguarding of a means of access (under section 37(1)). The appeal may be made on the grounds that any of the work specified in a notice under section 36(3) is not necessary to remedy the breach of the agreement or has been carried out or requires more time. An appeal against a notice under section 37(1) may be made on the grounds that any of the work specified in the notice is not necessary to secure reasonable public access to the land, has been carried out, that the means of access should be provided elsewhere (for example, because it would be detrimental to the effective management of the land), or that a different means of access should be provided (for example, a gate instead of a stile). The Secretary of State (or the National Assembly for Wales) may confirm the notice with any modifications, or cancel it. The access authority will not be able to carry out any works while they remain the subject of an appeal.

59.The Secretary of State (or the National Assembly for Wales) may make regulations as to the making of appeals. Sections 7 and 8 (and Schedule 3) apply to the procedure on appeal as they apply to the procedure on appeals against provisional maps.

60.Where an owner or occupier repeatedly fails to comply with notices served by the access authority, section 39 enables the authority to seek an order from the courts. The section applies where two or more notices under section 36(3) or 37(1) have been served on the owner or occupier within a period of three years, and the period for compliance with those notices has expired. In these circumstances, a magistrates’ court may grant an order requiring the owner or occupier to remove any obstruction and to keep the means of access clear. Failure to comply with the order is an offence, attracting a fine on conviction of up to level 3 on the standard scale (currently £1,000). The access authority may also remove any such obstruction at the expense of the offender.

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