My honourable friend the Minister for Marine and Natural Environment (Huw Irranca-Davies) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Part 1 of the Commons Act 2006 seeks to achieve a comprehensive current record of common land and town or village greens. It enables commons registration authorities (county councils in two-tier areas, district councils in areas without a county council and London borough councils) to bring up to date their registers of commons and greens, established under the Commons Registration Act 1965. Individuals may apply to register past unrecorded events, and registration authorities can make proposals in the public interest to update the registers. People may also apply to deregister wrongly registered land, and to register new land as common land.
In England, implementation of Part 1 began with a pilot scheme, in October 2008. Seven authorities are participating in the pilot: Cornwall, Devon, Hertfordshire, Kent and Lancashire County Councils, the County of Herefordshire District Council, and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, representing about 18 per cent of the registered common land in England. The pilot implementation was designed to test the efficacy of procedures, guidance, costs and benefits, with the intention to commence national implementation in England from October 2010 onwards.
Following slower progress by pilot authorities with implementation than expected, regulations were made in July 2009 to extend the period during which applications to bring their registers up to date could be made free of charge until September 2010. This was to ensure that those individuals who stood to benefit from the provisions in the Act would have sufficient time to make applications to update the registers free of charge before the initial pilot period came to an end.
In order to ensure that we are able to learn fully all the lessons from the pilot, I have decided that the decision on whether, how and when to go ahead with national commencement should await the completion of the extended pilot period in September 2010. This means a delay in national implementation of at least a year from our original intention to commence from October 2010, but it will help to ensure that decisions on how best to proceed following the pilot are based on the best possible information.