The Highways Act 1980 contains a mechanism whereby long use of a way may result in its deemed dedication by the landowner as a highway or right of way. The Act allows a landowner to come to such dedication by the deposit of a map and statement showing admitted highways, followed by a declaration that that landowner has no intention to dedicate any other part of the land as a public right of way. The provisions enable landowners to protect themselves against claims for public rights of way. They also enable landowners to allow people to use their land on a permissive basis, without the need for a formal agreement, and without the fear that such use could give rise to a public right of way. Good use is made of the provisions, and landowners consider them a valuable and effective mechanism.
Clause 11 amends the Highways Act to allow the Secretary of State to make regulations prescribing the form of such statements, maps and declarations, including provision for a statement or declaration under the Act to be combined with a statement made to counter town and village green registration, which clause 12 will introduce. The aim, therefore, is simply to minimise the administrative burden on landowners who wish to make statements both for highways purposes and for town and village green purposes. We want to ensure that the processes for rights of way and for town and village greens are as joined up and consistent as possible. We hope that will encourage landowners to allow access to their land without being concerned about either rights of way dedications or town and village green applications.