Landowner Statements - Highways Act 1980 Section 31(6)

Protection against rights of way being established 

While it is possible for new rights of way to come into existence through public use, a landowner can also prevent this happening by showing they have taken sufficient action to make it clear to the public they have no right to cross the land. There are various means of doing this, such as: physical restraint in the form of locked gates, fences or other obstructions; verbal restraint; or challenge users of the way. Using provisions contained in Section 31(3) of the Highways Act 1980 a landowner can also erect a notice denying that a public right of way exists. Notices must be carefully worded and further advice about what information to include is available at Highways Act 1980 Section 31(3) and Section 31(5). Alteratively allowing access by permission only can also prevent a claim of rights. For further information and advice please see Permissive Paths. Barriers, or notices, may suffice, but they can be difficult to maintain in situ and there are further steps a landowner can take to reduce the risk of rights from accruing. Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 provides a mechanism for landowners to acknowledge the presence of existing rights of way across their land and negative the intention to dedicate further ways thereby preventing new rights being established.

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A register of landowner statements is available for public inspection:

View the Landowner Statements under Section 31(6) & Section 15(1)

Section 31(6) allows landowners to make their intentions clear by depositing with the appropriate authority a map and statement indicating any ways over that land they admit to be public rights of way. Then within 20 years a landowner must lodge a declaration to confirm that no new rights of way have been dedicated since the date of the deposit of the map and statement. Any public use of the land during this period will not then count towards the establishment of new rights of way.

This procedure will not defeat an application where it is possible to establish a 20 year period of uninterrupted use which expired before the initial deposit of the statement and plan; nor where rights have come to light as a result of historical evidence.

With the coming into force on 1st October 2013 of the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013, procedures for Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 changed. Landowners, or a duly authorised representative, are now required to apply to deposit a statement and map, and/or lodge a declaration, with the relevant authority and applications must be made on a prescribed form (CA16).

The same application form also allows for the deposit of a statement accompanied by a map with the commons registration authority (Cornwall Council) to protect a landowner against a registration of a town or village green. For further information please see Town and Village Greens.

So as to bring the application to the attention of users of the land the new regulations (Statutory Instrument 2013 No. 1774) instruct the local authority to publish notice by various means including on the authority’s website, by email on any person who has previously asked to be informed of applications and for not less than 60 days at or near at least one obvious place of entry to (or, if there are no such places, at or near at least one conspicuous place on the boundary of) the land to which the application relates.

Please see Current Notices of Landowner Statements, Highways Statements and Declarations for further information.

Due to the extra requirements placed on appropriate authorities dealing with statements and declarations, including time and travel costs to serve notice on site, it is now possible to set a reasonable fee for processing an application of this type and a charge is now applicable. Cornwall Council reserves the right to review and change their fees accordingly in the future.

For further advice potential applicants should speak to the relevant Countryside Access Records Officer on 0300 1234 202 or contact the Countryside Access Team by e-mail countrysideaccess@cornwall.gov.uk.

For further information on submitting an application please see: