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Natural Environment & Rural Communities Act 2006

Comment 12th February 2015

Section 67 of the Natural Environment & Rural Communities Act 2006

THE HISTORY BEHIND THE ACT

 

County Highway authorities had a legal duty from 1949 and1968 to record highways (including old tracks and trails) to clarify who had a legal right to use it. It would be either a Footpath: for pedestrians, Bridleway: for pedestrians, horse riders and cyclists or, less well advertised BYWAY: for pedestrians, horse riders, cyclists and motor vehicles (often 4 wheel drives and motorcycles)

 

Many county councils did not do that task so the complicated situation continued. There was a legacy of confusion about rights of way within local authorities, user groups, the police, land owners and others.

 

Government saw the need to sort out the confusion and gave users the chance to claim use of the lanes as BYWAY by proving the history of use. In the meantime all green lanes or Roads Used As Public Pathways (RUPPS) were classed as Restricted Byways. That immediately made it illegal to use a motor vehicle on them. Some may be reclassified as Byway after an enquiry but others may be Bridleway and, therefore lost forever to motor vehicles.

 

At about the same time the Ramblers Association managed to acquire The Right To Roam which extended their freedom to explore the countryside. Conversely a minority group of motorcyclists lost their freedom to explore the green lanes they had used.

 

UNDESIRABLE EFFECTS

 

Having ridden motorcycles on green lanes or Roads Used As Public Pathways (RUPPS) for decades these were effectively, in one foul swoop made illegal. The effect was to ban the use of these lanes by vehicles and wipe out a hobby, pastime completely in some areas; for example Exmoor in Somerset.

 

The remaining lanes that can be ridden legally have now to cope with increased use as the previously dispersed users are forced to concentrate their activities in a smaller number of tracks.

 

Some Byways are now cul-de-sac as there is no link between sections.

Why does this matter?

This has caused very unfair and unreasonable impacts to a significant part of the community by stopping them from using vehicles on some highways in the countryside that they have been using for decades. This legislation has drastically cut a large percentage of lanes that are legal to use a vehicle on.


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