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Public Rights of Way

Volume 453: debated on Thursday 23 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how he will assess whether claims to open up public rights of way discovered under the Discovering Lost Ways Project would (a) conflict with current land use and (b) be detrimental to the environment; and how he will deal with such claims. (100675)

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.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what resources his Department has made available to (a) local authorities and (b) the Planning Inspectorate to process claims made as part of the Discovering Lost Ways Project. (100676)

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.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost of the Discovering Lost Ways Project has been to date; and what the cost was of processing claims deriving from the project through to determination. (100677)

The cost of the Discovering Lost Ways Project to date has been £2.5 million. So far, there has been no cost in processing claims deriving from the project through to determination as no such claims have yet been made.