We can give you information and advice about public rights of way, including footpaths and bridleways, their maintenance and access to the countryside. Contact Transport Policy.
Phone: 0191 277 8955
A public right of way is a route along which anyone has the right to pass without hindrance or obstruction. In law, public rights of way are highways which are subject to the same legal protection as any other public highway.
The Definitive Map and Statement (map and statement) are legal documents the Council as surveying authority holds, which provide conclusive evidence at the date prepared of public rights of way.
In England and Wales, surveying authorities are under a duty (Section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981) to modify the map and statement using Definitive Map Modification Orders (DMMOs ) in consequence of events.
Events fall into two main categories:
Legal events (Orders already confirmed)
Section 53 (3) (a)
As an example, if a Diversion Order is made, confirmed and comes into operation, the coming into operation of the Order is an event under Section 53 (3) (a). Whilst the confirmed Diversion Order has already altered the legal line of the path, it hasn’t altered the information shown on the map and statement until a distinct, subsequent DMMO is made and confirmed.
All surveying authorities in England and Wales are now required to set up a register of DMMO applications under Section 53B (i) Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The register aims to increase knowledge among landowner’s, rights of way users and the general public about applications that could result or have resulted in changes to the map and / or statement.
Where a right of way has been actually enjoyed by the public as a right and without interruption for a full period of 20 years, then the way is deemed to have been dedicated as a highway unless there is sufficient evidence to the contrary.
One way that a landowner can negative an apparent intention to dedicate is to follow the procedure in section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980. This allows a landowner to deposit with the highway authority a Map and Statement showing the ways (if any) running over his land which he admits are dedicated as highways. If the landowner, within 10 years, then deposits a Statutory Declaration confirming that no additional ways have been dedicated since the deposit of the Map and Statement then this is sufficient (in the absence of any proof to the contrary) to establish that no additional ways have been dedicated.
The procedure will, however, have no effect on the existence of public rights of way already shown on the Definitive Map or in respect of any rights which have already been established before the Map and Statement were deposited (for example claims based on historical evidence or through 20 years’ use prior to the first section 31(6) deposit).
Once lodged with the highway authority the Map, Statement and Statutory Declaration will be available for public inspection.
Each local authority is required to set up and maintain a register containing information on Maps and Statements deposited, and Declarations lodged, by landowners in relation to public rights of way on their land. The hard copies are kept at the Civic Centre and can be viewed during office hours. The electronic version is now available view the Register of Applications.
Tyne and Wear Local Access Forum is a statutory body created under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. It is their responsibility to examine how the local authorities manage rights of way in their areas, and put forward ideas about how things can be improved for people who want to enjoy the countryside on their doorstep. They also seek to influence national government proposals where relevant.
The authorities involved are:
Visit their website http://www.tyneandwearlocalaccessforum.org.uk/ for more information.
From 21 November 2002 every highway authority in England and Wales had to prepare and publish a rights of way improvement plan (ROWIP) for its area within 5 years. This plan must then be reviewed every 10 years.
The plan assesses:
It contains a statement of action that the authority proposes to take for the management of local rights of way, and for securing an improved network.
The government announced that from 2005 rights of way improvement planning should be incorporated into the local transport planning process. The government aims to ensure that the contribution of rights of way to transport, recreation and health will be recognised and supported by all authorities by making ROWIPs a distinctive strand within the Local Transport Plan.
The ROWIP has now been incorporated into the Local Transport Plan for Tyne and Wear (LTP3).
Page last updated: 11 December, 2012