Following a recent ruling of the Court of Appeal, country landowners will have something to cheer about. The judgment means that hundreds of applications made by councils representing off-roaders and other users, for right of way over rural tracks, are likely to fail.
The Court ruled that access to land via two rights of way over Twyford Down in Hampshire was to be denied. The applications were not made in the correct form, but the Court concluded that even if they had been, in this case it was unlikely that they would have satisfied the requirements of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which aims to protect the rural environment.
The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 had as one of its aims the extinction of vehicular rights over green lanes where the rights had fallen out of use. This resulted in a deluge of applications by off-roaders to get councils to recognise vehicular rights, so that they could pursue their activities. Many of these applications have not been accompanied with the full Definitive Map and other documentation necessary and seem doomed to fail as a result.