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The Deregulation Bill, which is due for second reading in the House of Commons on Monday 3 February, will help to speed up claims for historic rights of way in England.
The bill follows the recommendations in Stepping Forward, the report produced in 2010 by Natural England’s stakeholder working group on unrecorded highways. The group is made up of representatives of landowners and farmers, local authorities and path-users. It met between October 2008 and January 2010 and reached unanimous agreement on how to streamline the process for recording paths on the definitive map. This is now urgent, since we are faced with a cut-off for claims based on historical evidence on 1 January 2026. The groups also agreed that the cut-off should not be implemented until its recommendations were seen to be working.
The Deregulation Bill was published as a draft bill last year and was scrutinised by a Parliamentary Committee. Fortunately, its provisions remain largely unaltered. In early January there were seemingly fictitious claims in the Times and Daily Telegraph that the Secretary of State was proposing to create a presumption in favour of diversions sought by landowners who wanted to move paths away from their houses. There is no such presumption in the bill.
The society supports the Deregulation Bill as published and hopes that it has a swift and uncontroversial passage through parliament.
Further information about the bill can be found here.