Rights of Way are affected by several pieces of legislation. The most recent being the Natural Environment & Rural Communities Act 2006 (NERC) which limits the recording of public vehicular highways on the Definitive Map. This is a complex piece of legislation, the interpetation of which is being challenged in the Courts. Further explanation can be found in the Act's explanatory notes; on the NERC page of this site; and for IPROW members on the IPROWiki Judicial Review and Application of NERC to Inclosure Roads.
Significant changes to the way rights of way are managed came in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW) which brought in the duty to prepare Rights of Way Improvement Plans. CROW also has some effect on the duties and powers of Highway Authorities in managing rights of way according to the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, the Countryside Act 1968, the Highways Act 1980 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and with regard to Local Transport Plan and Nature Conservation issues.
You should be aware that not all the changes proposed in CROW have come into effect, even though the Act has been passed into law and it remains for the government to pass regulations to bring certain proposals into effect. It is possible that some proposed changes will not be brought into effect and the government may revoke certain parts of the Act.
Rights of way are highways in law and while the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 secured the creation of definitive maps and statements, upon which certain types of rights of way were to be recorded (often for the first time), other earlier pieces of legislation had an impact on the rights of way network. Significant pieces of legislation include the Rights of Way Act 1932 (now largely embodied in s31 Highways Act 1980) and the Highway Act 1835, which is particularly significant with respect to modern maintenance liability for some byways and restricted byways.
Most Acts and Statutory Instruments are available on legislation.gov.uk. Enter the name and date of the act if known, or search key words, or browse acts.
- National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949
- Countryside Act 1968
- Highways Act 1980
- Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981
- Town and Country Planning Act 1990
- Disability Discrimination Act 1995 : Disability Discrimination Acts
- Disability Discrimination Act 2005
- Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000
- Natural Environment & Rural Communities Act 2006
Past Legislation Provisions
The Ramblers has a useful list of superseded provisions relating to definitive map legislation as an 'extra' to the 'Blue Book' (Rights of Way: a guide to law and practice by John Riddall and John Trevelyan).