CLA criticises Government after deadline to register England's footpaths is cancelled

The decision to remove the cut-off date without consultation leaves uncertainty for farmers and landowners

The CLA has criticised the UK Government’s decision to remove the cut-off date for adding historic unrecorded rights of way to the Definitive Map.

The map is intended to record all historic rights of way, and members of the public have long been able to apply to update it where they have evidence.

There have been more than 70 years to get the Definitive Map up to date and 22 years since a provision for a cut-off was set out in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act. The act set out how all updates to the map should be completed by 2026 providing certainty to landowners who may have had lost rights of way on their land.

Yet the UK Government this week decided to remove this cut-off date without consultation, much to the confusion and anger of industry bodies.

CLA President Mark Tufnell said:

“We have engaged constructively and collaboratively on this issue since the turn of the century.

For Government to rip up long established processes without warning, let alone consultation, is extraordinary – and deeply damaging

CLA President Mark Tufnell

“Those seeking to recover long-lost public rights of way have had decades to apply to modify the map, and we have supported their right to do so. But the cut-off date was there for good reason, not least to help provide certainty to farmers and landowners who may wish to buy or sell land, or those who simply need to know what their responsibilities are.

“I could perhaps understand the change if our countryside was already lacking in public access. But there are over 140,000 miles of public footbaths in England and Wales alone. That’s enough to go around the Earth six times.

We strongly encourage Government ministers to rethink this move, to reengage with us and to restore trust in what we always thought was a worthwhile process

CLA President, Mark Tufnell