Deadline to record lost rights of way removed – is it all good news?

DEFRA has announced that the 2026 cut-off date for recording historic rights of way will be removed.  But what does it all mean; is it good news or could it be bad news?

According to a DEFRA spokesperson:

“As we have recognised in our 25 Year Environment Plan, public access is key to connecting people with the environment to improve health and wellbeing.”

“The Government has decided to take forward a streamlined package of measures in order to help enhance the way that rights of way are recorded and managed”

We welcome the announcement but, as with everything related to Government policy, the devil is in the detail, of which there is very little. What will be the streamlined package of measures?  It was also a very low key announcement; there isn’t a link to this on the DEFRA website which is odd, particularly with the amount of groups who would benefit from this including cyclists, equestrians and walkers.  Does the removal of the deadline relate to a speedier methodology of processing DMMO (Definitive Map Modification Order) requests or does it allow landowners to close or divert little used public rights of way more easily – at this stage we just don’t know.

“Whilst we welcome the removal of the 2026 deadline, the implications of what this change means are not clear. We look forward to learning about the Government’s new plans to ensure historic rights of way are not lost.

A big thanks to the many volunteers up and down the country who have given up huge amounts of time researching and collating historical evidence to ensure we do not lose these historic routes.” – Andy Wood, Peak District MTB 

When we know more we’ll share it.

Further reading:

Recording lost rights of way – Project 2026

18 February 2022