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 prevent this by showing they have taken enough 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. Further advice about what information to include is available at Highways Act 1980 Section 31(3) and Section 31(5).
Alternatively, allowing access by permission only can 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. 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.
A register of landowner statements is available for public inspection:
For help in how to use the Register please visit: Landowner Register Help
Depositing a landowner statement
Section 31(6) allows landowners to state their intentions by depositing with the appropriate authority a map and statement. This states 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 no new rights of way have been dedicated since the date of the depositing 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
For more information about Section 31 (6) Register.
Making a Section 31(6) Application
With the coming into force on 1 October 2013 of the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013, procedures for Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 changed. Landowners, or an authorised representative, are now required to:
- apply to deposit a statement and map
- and/or lodge a declaration, with the relevant authority
Applications must be made on a prescribed form (CA16).
Depositing a Statement under Section 15A(1) of the Commons Act 2006
The CA16 form allows the deposit of a statement with by a map with the 'Commons Registration Authority' (Cornwall Council). This protects a landowner against a registration of a town or village green. For further information please see Town and Village Greens.
Publishing Notice of Application
To bring the application to the attention of users of the land the new regulations (Statutory Instrument 2013 No. 1774) instructs the local authority to publish notice:
- on the authority’s website
- email any person who has asked to be informed of applications
- at or near to one obvious place of entry to the land in the application. Or, if there are no such places, at or near at least one conspicuous place on the boundary of the land for no less than 60 days.
Please see Current Notices of Landowner Statements, Highways Statements and Declarations for further information.
Charges for Section 31(6) Applications
Extra requirements on appropriate authorities dealing with statements and declarations including time and travel costs to serve notice on site are in place. So, it is now possible to set a reasonable fee for processing an application, so, a charge is now applicable. Cornwall Council reserves the right to review and change their fees 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 email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information on submitting an application please see: