The new Deregulation Act 2015
The Deregulation Bill 2013 finally emerged as the Deregulation Act 2015 on 26th March 2015. Below is a simple explanation of what the Act is as given by DEFRA, followed by a brief account of how the Open Spaces Society sees it. A key consideration is how the new Act will assist in getting ‘Lost Ways’ onto the Definitive map before the cut-off date of 2026.
.The draft Deregulation Bill, published in July 2013, aimed to reduce the burden of excessive regulation on businesses, individuals and civil society. One of the most important sections of the Act deals with Rights of Way. It contains a number of proposals that are important for local authorities, some of which have implications for the management of the PROW network.
DEFRA stated –
On 26 March 2015 the rights of way provisions in the Deregulation Act 2015 received the Royal Assent. A copy of the Act is available.
This legislation is the first stage of a package of rights of way reforms, which aims to simplify and streamline the processes for recording and making changes to the public rights of way network. The rest of the reforms will now follow, taking the form of implementing regulations and guidance.
In order to maintain the balance of interests between the various stakeholders, all the elements of the reforms package will be brought into force on a common commencement date, rather than being introduced piecemeal.
It is not expected that the Act will be operative before April 2016.
Comments by the Open Spaces Society
The Rights of Way clauses remain unaltered from the original Bill.
A section in the bill gives landowners ‘The ‘Right to apply’ for path changes, subject to the order-making authority being able to reclaim the cost. This provision was included in the 2000 CROW Act but was never commenced. We have called for this to be monitored closely to ensure that authorities do not employ staff subsidised by these payments to make diversions in favour of landowners.
Regrettably, the Act will not take effect until 2016, only 10 years before the 2026 Definitive map cut-off. The OSS will be fully involved in the passage of the Act and will keep its members informed of its further progress.
Since the Act will not be fully effective until mid 2016 it is only possible to speculate how it will work in terms of Rights of Way law. However, in late 2015 officers from the Rights of Way department at Lincs County Council gave their opinions.
A brief explanation of the effects of the Act included the
1. The ending of the opportunity to apply to have routes added to the Definitive Map
and Statement based purely on historical information.
2. A new system of processing Definitive Map Modification Orders to make them less
3. A "right to apply" for a Public Path Order (currently the Council was not obliged to
accept applications to divert or extinguish public rights of way and had no need to
provide reasons why an order would not be pursued.
Officers stated that they were uncertain about the certain aspects of the Act
particularly affecting Public Path Orders because Regulations were still awaited from
Defra in connection with the implementation of the Act.
Officers responded to comments including the opportunity to extend the cut-off date
from 2026 to 2031 to have routes added to the Definitive Map and Statement
although Defra was not keen on this extension.
1. The local authority was able to dismiss "irrelevant" objections to make an order
but must have regard to the advice of the Secretary of State which as yet was
2. With regard to modifications to the Definitive Map and Statement it was possible to
change the status of a route from a Bridleway to a footpath and a landowner was
able to ask questions of the local authority in this respect.
3. In connection with a local authority making a Definitive Map and Modification Order
the balance of probabilities test was preferable to the previous "reasonably alleged
4. With regard to the position in connection with a right of way which was not
recorded but which had been in use since 1949, the regulations would address this
5. All streets on the Exemption Street List were required to be shown on the List by
2026. However, it was not possible to add a Byway Open to Traffic after 2026.