Patchetts Green Bridleways Trust
 PG: OBJECTS: RECORDING: (1) The Benefits

The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 set up the system of recording public paths known as 'the definitive map and statement'. This is now governed by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).

The benefit of recording a bridleway or byway on the definitive map is provided by section 56 of the 1981 Act, which provides

(1) A definitive map and statement shall be conclusive evidence as to the particulars contained therein to the following extent, namely - ...
(b) where the map shows a bridleway, the map shall be conclusive evidence that there was at the relevant date a highway as shown on the map, and that the public had thereover at that date a right of way on foot and a right of way on horseback or leading a horse, so however that this paragraph shall be without prejudice to any question whether the public had at that date any right of way other than those rights ...
In other words, if the path is recorded you need only produce the definitive map to prove that you had the right to be there. This is a powerful provision, especially if your use of a route is challenged. It helps prevent paths from vanishing through disuse and assists the county council in asserting and protecting the public's rights on paths that have been put on the map. The section also makes clear that rights on paths that are unrecorded still exist, although you may have to prove them if challenged.

Unfortunately, there are many paths that are not on the map. Many of these are unrecorded simply because there have not been any problems with them in recent years. It only takes a change of landowner for problems to start - especially if he thinks that failure to show a route on the map means it doesn't exist. In addition, Parliament recently enacted the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which will stop up paths that are unrecorded on the 'cut-off date'.

The Patchetts Green Bridleways Trust is seeking to record all the bridleroutes, so that they have the protection of being on the definitive map, and do not get stopped up under the 2000 Act. This is being done in conjuction with other groups, like the Bushey and District Footpaths Association and the British Horse Society.

What is the Issue over recording?

© 2008 Patchetts Green Bridleways Trust