Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 S53 Contridiction & S56

This 1981 Act  cannot stand on it’s own and should not contradict the other highways acts.

Extracts from the Application for Highways Modification Order showing the contradiction.

This is Section 53

A Council wrote.

I note the request for further supporting evidence used to produce the statement and the definitive map. However you will be well aware of the legal significance of the definitive map, namely Section 56 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which provides that the map and statement are conclusive evidence of the existence, at the date to which the map applies of any public rights of way shown and described and thus any background documentation is in this context irrelevant.


Concerning the so called “Map and Statement”

I have seen hundreds of “Parish Notes”. You would not buy a field having merely a “description”. You need exact acreage proper deeds and proper survey details. The “Parish pages” you have been sent are not proper legal statements of highway land.

The highways which were there before 1949 were already a public responsibility and the Government wanted them properly surveyed so that the County would know exactly where their responsibilities lay. All the highways continued to be a public responsibility for repair and then ten years later in 1959 the words “repairable by the inhabitants at large” were changed to “maintainable at the public expense” As from HA 1959 S38 all those highways which were lawfully on the Definitive Map and Statement HAD to be listed. This is what councils refused to do and public highways are not maintainable privately.

Referring to the letter from the council (8 May re WL&CA 1981 S56) it does state that the marking on the map is evidence of a highway. But the Section 56 states that where there is a Definitive Map and Statement then it is evidence of a highway. But where is the Statement showing the county’s full survey and when did it take place? A Relevant Date is a legal requirement and where is the highway on the list?


Amendments to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 were tabled recently in the House of Lords on behalf of the Countryside Rights Association, the aim of which was to remove the injustices to the landowner in the application of this legislation.

The Countryside Rights Association does not wish to deny the public the enjoyment of the countryside but it maintains that the enjoyment must be procured with fairness and justice to the owner of the land.

Section 26 of the Highways Act 1980 can be used to create new public rights of way routes or to add higher rights to existing highways.  In creating new paths authorities will also need to consider and take appropriate advice about any compensation payments that may need to be agreed with a landholder.


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