The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has confirmed that it will be progressing with a firm deadline for the recording of historic public rights of ways.

A public right of way is a legal right for individuals, usually restricted to pedestrians, to travel across otherwise private land. The Countrywide and Rights of Way Act (2000) fixed a deadline of 1st January 2026 for all historic rights of way to be formally recorded with the local authority. If such historic rights of way were not recorded by this date, then they would be extinguished with only limited exceptions.

This deadline has been extended to 1st January 2031 due to Covid-19 but is being progressed. It is important to recognise the difference between the Government’s policy towards public rights of ways with private rights of ways. The latter relates to rights that benefit one piece of land (the ‘dominant land’) over another piece of land owned by somebody else (the ‘servient land’). They are not, in general, for the right of wider usage and are unaffected by The Countrywide and Rights of Way Act (200)

If you require any advice on public or private rights of way, please get in touch with our Rural Affairs team who will be pleased to assist.