Path Extinguishment Day History
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YearParliament and GovernmentVoluntary Sector ActionFunding
2000Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (Royal Assent 30 Nov 00) sets cut off day for recording footpaths and bridleways that existed before 1949 (s.53, s.56).

Secretary of State says that applications made before the cut off day will be processed to completion.

Minister for the Environment (Michael Meacher) says that the Government intends to introduce proposals to encourage the completion of the record of historic rights of way within 25 years, subject to the provision of adequate resources to complete the task within that time scale. (Hansard, 20 Mar 00, Col 729)

 Minister for the Environment announces funding for local authorities. (10 Jul 00)
"Local authorities will be properly and reasonably funded for additional rights of way tasks. The funding expected to be required as a result of the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill is identified in the explanatory notes that accompany the Bill as between £12 million and £19 million per annum. We shall determine the exact sums to be made available in the next three years in the light of the outcome of the current spending review."

Michael Meacher writes to Peter Pike MP (15 Aug 00)
"It is our intention, however, to begin funding from next year the researching of rights of way by voluntary sector bodies, with appropriate additional funding for local authorities to record them." [2]

Michael Meacher has meeting on 11 Oct 00 with NFBA, BHS and BBT in which he gives assurance that,
"The Government would make £2m available annually to the voluntary sector to assist with researching evidence and claiming new rights of way" [2]

Minister updates Parliament on funding (Hansard, 28 Nov 00, Col 886)
"However, in recognition of the time limit on completing the historic record of rights of way, we are not waiting until 2002. Some £750,000 of the £3.5 million allocated to areas of outstanding natural beauty—access to which is to be channelled through the Countryside Agency next year—is to assist non-governmental organisations to research rights of way. Those are considerable sums. Local authorities are unlikely to face a significant increase in applications for such work during the next financial year. However, an extra £400,000 for recording rights of way has been included in the local authority settlement for England that was announced yesterday." [2]

2001The 'Discovering Lost Ways' project was set up by the Countryside Agency.
It was to fulfil Government policy in introducing the cut-off that impetus should be given to the task of completing the definitive map and statement before the cut-off took effect. The project sought to capture evidence about 'missing' historical rights of way and those under-recorded on the definitive map and statement. [1]
User groups effectively told that the Government would be working out how to do the research needed to get the unrecorded and under-recorded paths onto the definitive map.Mr Meacher writes to Chairman NFBA (2 Apr 01)
"I am aware that researching rights of way has been a burden on the voluntary sector for some time. This is why we have allocated £750,000 next year rising to £2M in later years for the research of rights of way. The Countryside Agency will be administering the fund. Substantial additional funding will also be provided to local highway authorities from financial year 2002/2003." [2]
Rural Affairs Minister, Alun Michael, writes to Chairman NFBA (6 Oct 01)
"As well as additional finances for local authorities, the Government is providing funding to the Countryside Agency to enable the voluntary sector to undertake research on historic rights of way so that they are recorded on definitive maps before the 25 year cut off date." [2]
2005 Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Alun Michael says applications will be processed to conclusion. (Hansard, 7 Mar 05, Col 1493W)
"There is provision for regulations in section 56(2) of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 to allow the making of transitional provisions and savings in respect of applications outstanding at the time of the cut-off date.
It is our intention that the regulations under section 56 will provide that all applications entered on the register at the cut-off date will be processed to their conclusion by the surveying authority."
2006  Barry Gardiner's written statement on funding
"The Discovering Lost Ways Project was triggered by legislation, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, to set a cut-off date for claims to record historic rights of way. At the time that this legislation was passed, a regulatory impact assessment (RIA) was prepared in which it was estimated that the cost to local authorities of processing the resulting claims would be £1.6 million a year until the cut-off date of 1 January 2026. This was one of several new burdens arising from part II of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which were funded by the Government through the un-hypothecated Environmental Protection and Cultural Services block of the Revenue Support Grant.

The RIA estimated that the cost to Government for resulting public inquiries would be some £56,000 a year. To date, no extra resources for processing claims have been given to the Planning Inspectorate, as no claims under the Discovering Lost Ways Project have yet been made."

Byway and Bridleway records that the amount of money that has gone to the voluntary sector for research activtites is precisely zero. [2]

2008The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) agrees the Discovering Lost Ways project should be closed down and that the processes for adding historic paths to definitive maps should be reviewed instead.  
 The Stakeholder Working Group is set up (Oct 08) by Natural England to look for ways to improve the legislative position from all stakeholders' points of view.User groups effectively told that the Government would be working out how to change the law to get the unrecorded and under-recorded paths onto the definitive map. 
2010Stepping Forward, the report of the Stakeholder Working Group report published 22 Mar 10.  
2012 1 Oct 12: Rights of Way: Restoring the Record is published to help everyone (councils and volunteers) find the evidence for their investigations and applications. Print run 1,100 copies.BHS secures grant from Sport England (via the British Equestrian Federation) to investigate how to speed up path research and recording.
2015Deregulation Act 2015 (Royal assent 20 Mar 15) allows Secretary of State to make Regulations to add detail to the cut-off process, and to give effect to the Stepping Forward recommendations in England.
Parliamentary answer HL3951 says that the Government is on schedule to implement the Deregulation Act 2015's rights of way provisions in spring 2016.
20 Jun 15: First ROWRTR Systematic Research Training day held. 
2016Parliamentary answer HL7747 (29 Apr 16) says that the Government expects the package of [Deregulation Act 2015] legislation and guidance to be commenced, all on the same date, later in the year. "One of the sets of regulations we are introducing is subject to affirmative resolution and therefore first needs to be debated in both Houses. This has added to the timetable."16 Jul 16: ROWRTR (first edition) sold out!

316 people attended ROWRTR training sessions (sponsored by the BHS, Ramblers and OSS)

2017Welsh Government Consultation on sustainable management of natural resources includes at chapter 4 consideration of simplifying and harmonising procedures for designating and recording public access. Proposal 25 related to repealing the cut off date provisions.

Natural Resources Wales said "We support removing the CRoW Act cut-off date provisions for the reasons given in the consultation document – namely the heavy burden it would place on local authorities and the risk of losing many unrecorded routes."

22 Aug 17: Rights of Way: Restoring the Record (second edition) is published. Print run 2,500 copies. Natural England sends a copy to each Local Access Forum in England.

Nov 17: The Ramblers appoints a Don't Lose Your Way Project Officer.

183 people attended ROWRTR training sessions (sponsored by the BHS, Ramblers and OSS)

2018Parliamentary answer 136976 (26 Apr 18) says that the Government plans to implement the [Stakeholder Working Group] package in the first half of 2019, subject to Parliamentary time.

Consultation results published (19 Jun 18) by the Welsh Government. A majority of respondents agreed that the cut off date legislation should be repealed.

1 Oct 18: British Horse Society appoints full time 2026 Project Officer.

The British Horse Society launches project to make 2700 applications that add equestrian rights by 31 Mar 2021, with £100 paid towards expenses for sufficiently good applications.

163 people attended ROWRTR training sessions (sponsored by the BHS, Ramblers and OSS)

BHS secures second grant from Sport England (via the British Equestrian Federation) to perform research and recording over a three-year period. BHS Trustees match fund the grant.
2019Short debate (2 Apr 19) in the House of Lords regarding an extension to the 2026 cut-off date, sponsored by Lord Greaves.
Lord Thurloe (CB) asked why have a cut off date at all. Baroness Scott of Needham Market said that whether a path is extinguished should not depend on the capacity of the local volunteers, and asked whether local government was adequately funded for the task. She believed the cut off date should be extended. Lord Carrington (CLA and NFU member) thought that the cut off didn't affect in-use paths, and favoured retaining 2026 as the cut off. Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville (LD) urged the Government to abandon the 2026 cut off. Baroness Jones of Whitchurch (Lab) urged DEFRA to reconsider the cut off date. The Government response was 'no change', but suggested that post BREXIT the SWG project would resume, and that there may be opportunities in the Agriculture Bill.

Hannah Blythyn AM, Deputy Minister for Housing & Local Government, announces creation of an Access Reform Group to consider in more detail the consultation responses to the 2018 Sustainable Management of Natural Resources (SMNR) consultation. She said,
"I will progress significant changes to access rights and facilitate an assumption of non-motorised multi-use on access land and the public rights of way network. This will provide users such as cyclists and horse riders with many more opportunities to access the outdoors near to where they live in line with the goals set out in the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act 2015 and complementing the provisions of the Active Travel (Wales) Act and the Environment (Wales) Act.
There are some minor technical reforms that are widely supported and uncontroversial. These amendments will reduce complexity for users and path managers and realise financial savings for local authorities and landowners. They will be progressed as soon as a suitable legislative vehicle can be identified. They include: ... Access proposal 25 Repeal some areas of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act that are proving costly and inefficient ..."

115 people attended ROWRTR systematic research training sessions (sponsored by the BHS, Waters of Wales, Ramblers and OSS), while another 70 came to awareness talks. 
202017 Mar 20 - Government advice causes most archive offices to close as a result of the Covid-19 virus. Closed archives include The National Archives, the British Library and many local archive offices.Ramblers launch on-line tool to help identify routes from the 1900s that are not recorded, in order to scope size of problem and to start researchers on specific routes. FAQs 
2022Feb 22 - Westminster Government announces plans to repeal 2026 cut off day when Parliamentary time permits. We won't count on this until it happens, as a change of government could lead to the date being brought in, until repeal has taken place.
17 Feb 22, Guardian Article

Oct 22 - Welsh Government publishes draft Bill which would repeal the Path Extinguishment Day in Wales.

The Government's intention was confirmed in Parliament: in the House of Commons on 10 Oct 2022 and in the House of Lords on 17 Oct 2022.

22 Oct 22 - First ROWRTR training session since covid. 
1 Jan 2023: Three years to go!
2023A cross-party amendment, number 471, to the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill has been tabled for consideration at the committee stage. If included, it would repeal the cut-off day legislation (sections 53-56 Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000). It failed.

On 24 Oct 23, The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (Commencement No. 16) Order 2023 (SI 2003/1121) brought section 53-56 into force. The Path Extinguishment Day provisions are now active. No exemption regulations were made. OSS response, Ramblers statement

On 25 Oct 23, The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (Substitution of Cut-off Date Relating to Rights of Way) (England) Regulations 2023 were made (SI 2023/1126) extends the cut off date to 1 Jan 2026.

 In the Explanatory Note to the Commencement Order, it says, "An impact assessment has not been produced for this instrument as no significant impact on the private, voluntary or public sectors is foreseen."
1 Jan 2026: Paths not on the definitive map are extinguished (unless the extension goes ahead).
1 Jan 2031: Paths not on the definitive map are extinguished.
[1] Stepping Forward, 2010, Natural England, para 2.1
[2] Byway and Bridleway, 2006, issue 2006/1/1, page 1.

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© 2022 Sarah Bucks and Phil Wadey. Facebook Twitter: #rowrtr Goodreads reviews ISBN 978-0-9574036-0-4 (first edition) ISBN 978-0-9574036-1-1 (second edition) More details