Back in 2000 the Countryside and Rights of Way Act was passed. This Act not only introduced “the right to roam” but also made provisions about rights of way, especially the issue of the 2026 cut-off date for recording rights of way.
The intention of a cut-off date was to ensure that as of 2026 there was absolute certainty for users and landowners as to where rights of way existed. As a result there is a concerted effort to discover so-called ‘lost ways’. Many of these ‘lost ways’ have been ‘lost’ for a reason, reflecting changes in land use and local need. The Deregulation Act 2015 sought to simplify the process by which rights of way are recorded, including making it easier to extinguish or divert rights of way. What is needed is a network which meets public need, not one which is ideologically based on the principle that any right of way must be preserved in perpetuity even where it serves no public need or is detrimental to land use.
Local access forums (LAFs) were introduce by the 2000 Act to ensure that there was a proper balance between the interests of users and landowners. We would urge those with an interest in land get involved with their local forum so that the rights of way network is fit for purpose and takes proper account of the rights of those who own and manage the land.