Hundreds of miles of Yorkshire Coast public footpaths could soon disappear warns councillor

East Riding councillors have backed calls to protect 634 miles of public rights of way which could be lost if they are not registered in time.

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 9:10 am
Updated Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 3:19 pm
Some 49,000 miles of public rights of way remain unregistered according to the Ramblers charity. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

Councillors passed a motion from Conservative Cllr Leo Hammond on Wednesday November 17, calling for locals to be made aware of a 2026 deadline to identify and register the footpaths.

Cllr Hammond told East Riding Council’s full meeting local knowledge would be needed to find some rights of way as they were only known to people living nearby.

Liberal Democrat leader Cllr David Nolan said council teams needed more resources to process rights of way claims given the Countryside Agency only processed four in as many years.

The calls come ahead of the deadline for registrations at the start of 2026 set by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

Any public right of way established before 1949 and not currently registered will be dissolved after the cut of date if no claim is made for them.

Some 49,000 miles of public rights of way, including footpaths, bridleways and byways are thought to be at risk as they remain unregistered, according to the Ramblers charity.

Cllr Hammond’s motion calls on the council to ask the government to cancel the 2026 deadline for registrations.

It also calls on the government to make funding available to councils to find and record rights of way if no cancellation is possible.

A Liberal Democrat amendment which also passed asks for council officers to look at whether more resources will be needed for its Definitive Map Team tasked with processing claims.

Cllr Hammond said the loss of rights of way would be terrible not just for locals but also for the countryside and environment generally.

He said: “I was saddened to learn about the deadline for registrations.

“We’re talking about long standing public rights of way which aren’t formally registered, these could be lost forever.

“These rights of way not only benefit the environment but they also help to get people into the countryside.

“We hope people will help us by coming forward to help us identify historic rights of way.”

Cllr Nolan said issued over finding rights of way remained, including ones close to urban areas and also ones where the legal status was not clear.

The opposition leader said: “Government money for this would reduce pressure on local authority staff to process claims.

“But local ramblers say publicity alone will not speed up the process and the team is short of funds, the council may need to look to its own budgets for this.

“The process is expensive, there’s a block of undetermined claims and coronavirus has meant two years has already been lost.”