Whether rights of way are identified through the Discovering Lost Ways Project or otherwise, the legislation that provides for them to be recorded on the definitive map and statement (the local authorities’ legal record of rights of way) is concerned only with whether the right of way can be proved to exist in law. No other considerations may be taken into account.
The Discovering Lost Ways Project was triggered by legislation, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, to set a cut-off date for claims to record historic rights of way. At the time that this legislation was passed, a regulatory impact assessment (RIA) was prepared in which it was estimated that the cost to local authorities of processing the resulting claims would be £1.6 million a year until the cut-off date of 1 January 2026. This was one of several new burdens arising from part II of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which were funded by the Government through the un-hypothecated Environmental Protection and Cultural Services block of the Revenue Support Grant.
The RIA estimated that the cost to Government for resulting public inquiries would be some £56,000 a year. To date, no extra resources for processing claims have been given to the Planning Inspectorate, as no claims under the Discovering Lost Ways Project have yet been made.