Public Footpaths and Rights of Way: Environment Protection

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 26th July 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Hodgson of Abinger Baroness Hodgson of Abinger Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they take when they identify that new buildings or developments interrupt historic footpaths, bridlepaths or rights of way; and whether those steps include the creation of diversions to ensure such paths and rights of way are not lost.

Photo of Lord Benyon Lord Benyon The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Public rights of way are a local issue and this matter is the responsibility of local highway authorities, usually the County Council. It is for the local authority to take the necessary action to resolve conflicts between building and the rights of way network, such as creating orders to extinguish, divert or create a new path.

The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) administers rights of way cases on behalf of Defra, including confirming orders and dealing with cases where the decision has been challenged. If an order is confirmed, then it is for the authority to decide the appropriate action to take regarding any obstruction. PINS does not have the power to make orders itself to overcome planning issues or to direct a local authority to make one.

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