Deregulation Bill – Unsurfaced Roads
Please can you pass this email to any rider, walker, cyclist, runner, carriage driver, disabled rambler, history buff, or any organisation connected in any way with this.
You may or may not know that as things stand under the Deregulation Bill, some unsurfaced roads could be extinguished in 2026. These are shown on ordnance survey as routes with green dots (not diamonds – diamonds are national trails and can have many statuses).
Unsurfaced roads/ORPAs (Other Routes with Public Access) have generally been regarded as having full multi-user access, as they are recorded in the county’s book of roads, and are maintainable at county expense.
However, DEFRA has informed all local authorities that being historically maintainable by the county is not the same as actually having legal rights to use them. This means that rights for horse riders, cyclists and walkers/runners, disability scooters/trail riders/carriage drivers etc. will be extinguished from these roads unless these rights can be shown on the definitive map. This requires checking all routes against both records (Highways and PROWs) which we have started, and where they are not shown as having PROW status, applying for modification orders. This entails researching Enclosure Award, Finance and Tythe maps – for every unsurfaced road in the county!
The British Horse Society is running a day course at Bicester, Sunday Nov 19th for ANYONE interested in learning how to research the records. As chair of Mid Cotswold Tracks & Trails Group, I will be attending. It is free to attend, but you should take a packed lunch and a lap top. If anyone is interested please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details and to book in. Research will include finding mapping in the record office for Enclosure Award, Finance and Tythe Maps etc.
The task for us users in Gloucestershire is going to be huge, and we strongly believe that a cross-section group of riders, walkers, cyclists and historians is the only realistic way to approach this to try to get all areas covered without duplication. We already have some mapping with roads numbers added and hope to do a little more on this before the talk day and would be pleased to share this. (hard copy at the moment – I need help to get this digital in some way in the future. MCTTG has digital OS mapping license for sharing with group members etc.)
There is a possibility that the government will alter this decision before the deadline, as it appears to us that we will be presenting the county with masses of modification order applications, and that this will be replicated nationwide which will massively overload the system even more than it already is. We are preparing our own letter to MPs to ask for the bill to be amended to add Restricted Byway status to all unsurfaced roads, however, we do think that we should try to get a team together and make some preparations as they may persist with this.
We are trying to contact as many interested parties as we can – please pass this message to anyone who may be interested, or send us contact info for any other groups you know of.
Although we are a British Horse Society affiliated group, we have been working with several other parties on various muli-user track issues, and believe that all working together for self-help action and fundraising is the only real way of getting track improvements in the current financial situation. See out facebook page for more or email me to chat.
Pat Harris (MCTTG Chair)
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