Chwilio Deddfwriaeth

Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000

Summary

70.Part II of the Act contains provisions designed to reform and improve rights of way in England and Wales.

71.The Act introduces measures for the strategic review, planning and reporting of improvements to rights of way, and the promotion of increased access for people with mobility problems. A new category of right of way – restricted byway – having rights for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and horse drawn vehicles, replaces the current category of Roads Used as Public Paths.

72.Local authorities are required to have regard to nature conservation when performing some of their rights of way functions. Other environmental safeguards include extended powers to regulate traffic for conservation purposes and new powers to divert rights of way to protect Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).

73.The Act provides for a cut-off date for the recording of certain rights of way on definitive maps and the extinguishment of those not so recorded by that date. There are provisions for excepting rights of way from extinguishment; for extending the cut-off date; and for making savings for cases where modification orders have been made but not confirmed before the cut-off date, where applications for such orders have been submitted before the cut-off date, and where such orders have been quashed because of a legal error.

74.The Act gives a new right to certain landowners and occupiers to apply to a local authority for an order to divert or extinguish a footpath or bridleway over their land, and to appeal against refusal. Any resulting order would proceed in accordance with existing legislation which provides for objections to be heard and for a public inquiry or hearing to be held. Proprietors of schools are given similar rights, and local authorities will be able to make orders closing or diverting rights of way for school security reasons and to assist in the prevention of crime in certain areas.

75.There is provision for occupiers of any land to temporarily divert a footpath or bridleway which passes over that land where works (to be prescribed in regulations made by the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales) are likely to cause danger to users of the right of way.

76.Stronger measures will be available for dealing with obstructions. Magistrates convicting a person of wilfully obstructing a highway will be able to order the removal of the obstruction. Magistrates will also be able to impose daily fines where the obstruction continues after a person has been convicted of failing to comply with such an order. In addition, any person will be able to serve notice on a local highway authority to secure the removal of certain obstructions, and if necessary to seek a magistrates’ court order requiring the authority to comply with the notice.

77.Local authorities will be required to have regard to the needs of disabled people when authorising the erection of gates and other barriers across rights of way to control livestock. In addition, the Act gives authorities power to enter into agreements with owners, lessees or occupiers of land to improve or replace such existing barriers to make them safer or more convenient for disabled people.

78.Local highway authorities’ existing powers to provide barriers in footpaths to safeguard the public are widened to allow authorities to erect posts and are extended to apply to bridleways which are maintainable at the public expense.

79.The unauthorised driving off-road of mechanically propelled vehicles becomes an offence and the existing offence of driving on a footpath or bridleway is extended to apply to restricted byways. For the purposes of the new offence there is provision to the effect that where a way is shown on a definitive map as a footpath, bridleway or restricted byway, it is presumed not to carry full vehicular rights unless the contrary is proved.

80.Part II also contains provisions relating to the grant of statutory easements for vehicular access over land (including common land) on which it is an offence to drive a vehicle.

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