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About this blog

An occasional blog about commons, village greens and rights of way. New posts will be tweeted at @PannageMan. Any views expressed here entirely my own. Full index to blogs:

The Stody Estate and cross compliance

General Posted on Tue, 10 April 2018 18:58

In 2014, Allen Lambert, an employee of the Stody Estate in Norfolk, was convicted of offences under s.1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, involving the poisoning of raptors. The offences are not in doubt. However, a recent High Court case, R (on the application of Stody Estate Ltd) v Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has questioned the extent of penalties which may be imposed for breaches of cross compliance under the Common Agricultural Policy.

The Stody Estate was previously farmed by the late Ian MacNicol, a former president of the Country Land and Business Association (it was the plain Country Landowners’ Association in those days, but is still known as the CLA). The late Michael Meacher, the then Minister for the Environment, was invited by MacNicol to visit his estate in the late 1990s, in the months running up to the expected Government decision on whether to pursue a statutory right of greater access to the countryside: MacNicol wanted to show the Minister that landowners (or at least, some landowners) were already providing additional access voluntarily. The Stody Estate at that time had entered into an agri-environment scheme which included additional, permissive, paths on the estate, in return for payments per unit length of path (some permissive access endures). At that time, I was working in the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, and accompanied the Minister. I think it was our first ‘outing’ with him. We thought he’d left it a bit tight arriving at the platform at Liverpool Street station with about three minutes until departure — but he abruptly turned around and went off to buy a coffee. He still made it. He rather enjoyed winding up officials. During the visit, as us ‘suits’ congregated at the edge of a cultivated field, contemplating the permissive path along the edge, a jogger fortuitously passed us by (proving, unlike some agri-environment access, that this facility was valued by local people), did a classic double take, jogged back, and shook Meacher’s hand, proclaiming himself a great fan. Meacher loved that, as any politician would. Later, as we careered in an estate Land Rover over a pleasant permanent pasture reaching down to a brook, the estate manager (Meacher was closeted with the president in another vehicle) told us of the valuable wildlife, and confided that this site was incompatible with public access. Presumably, otters had nothing against Land Rovers though. (To be fair, greater access with dogs might be another matter.)

Permissive access on the Stody estate, Photo © Evelyn Simak cc-by-sa

But back to the present. In the case before the court, the judge started off on the wrong foot. She was poorly briefed by counsel on the purpose of direct payments: she says (para.1), ‘after 2003 [the scheme] changed to one of incentivising conservation: payments were directed to the preservation of the environment, wildlife and habitats.’ Well, if that’s true then, to use the words of one former assistant secretary in charge of the scheme, when challenged on this point in a stakeholder meeting, for €3.5bn per annum, ‘it’s a bloody expensive environmental scheme.’ The truth, of course, is that it’s not an environmental scheme, but a farming subsidy scheme with some environmental dressing.

Under the direct payments scheme, claimants (i.e. farmers who claim subsidy under the Common Agricultural Policy, meaning nearly all) must subscribe to cross compliance, which is a roll call of most of the sectorally-specific statutory obligations under which farmers operate (such as observing the testing regime for tuberculosis in cattle, keeping rights of way unobstructed, and yes, killing of wildlife contrary to s.1 of the 1981 Act). It will be observed that statutory obligations are just that — they must be adhered to regardless of cross compliance, or subsidy, and breaches can usually be enforced through prosecution or, in some cases, civil remedies. But cross compliance theoretically gives the enforcing agencies added heft, because a breach may also, or alternatively, be acted upon by deducting penalties from direct payments. In practice, it is usually ‘alternatively’, if at all, because the capabilities of the enforcing agencies have been undermined by a decade of cuts, and Ministerial antipathy to farm inspections. Indeed, as fewer than one per cent of claimants are inspected each year for cross compliance, it might be imagined that the deterrence effect even of cross compliance ought to be minimal.

Where a breach arises from negligence, the penalties are typically a small percentage of the annual subsidy — perhaps three per cent (although three per cent of a payment exceeding £1m on a large estate of say 5,000ha is still quite a large penalty. Stody is around 1,700ha). But as the court explains in the judgment, where the breach is ‘committed intentionally by the farmer’, the penalty may be raised as high as the annual value of the subsidy itself. That is what happened in the Stody case: a penalty of 55% was imposed.

There was a further step involved in the Stody case, before it reached the court. The estate challenged the penalty, and in due course, appealed to the Minister. The Minister is advised by a panel, who hear the appellant, and report to the Minister with their recommendation. The panel is lay, the members are mainly from the agricultural community, and the secretary is an official but not a lawyer. It may be seen that this is not a structure which is likely to inspire great confidence in the wisdom of the panel’s decisions, although, if properly briefed (which the panel may not be), and effectively chaired, the panel is capable of acting as a fact-finding tribunal. But it has little knowledge of the law, and may not be briefed on the legal questions which may arise in a case. In theory, this gap can be filled by officials’ covering submission on the panel’s report to the Minister, but by then, it is too late to revisit or probe for any missing or unsatisfactory issues of fact. It may also be noted that, in practice, the decision on an appeal really is taken by a Minister. This is not a legal requirement — almost every decision of the Secretary of State may be taken by officials acting on the Secretary of State’s behalf — but one desired by Ministers (and by farmers). It contrasts with, say, decisions taken on behalf of the Secretary of State in relation to works on common land, where even the most significant determinations are made by officials or inspectors. But if a farmer appeals a £200 penalty, Ministers decide.

In the Stody case, the panel recommended a reduction in the penalty of 75% imposed by the Rural Payments Agency, and the Minister agreed. It was the decision nonetheless to impose a hefty penalty of 55% which was challenged by way of judicial review.

The court (Mrs Justice May DBE) had to wrestle with the question of responsibility for the poisoning. Undoubtedly, Mr Lambert was employed by the estate when he committed the offences. What was in question was whether the poisoning could be held to have been ‘committed intentionally by the farmer’ contrary to the relevant EU regulation. In this case, the Stody estate is a limited company, which employed Mr Lambert (one assumes that it no longer does). There is no evidence that the directing mind of the company (Charles MacNicol is currently the Managing Director) knew what was going on. It is sometimes said, in relation to poisoning done by gamekeepers, that a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy is in place, but again, there is no suggestion of that here.

The court was guided by the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the Dutch Van der Ham case, where a penalty had been imposed on a farmer who had contracted operations to a third party. In that case, the European Court concluded, ‘that, in the event of an infringement of the requirements of cross-compliance by a third party who carries out work on the instructions of a beneficiary of aid, the beneficiary may be held responsible for the infringement if he acted intentionally or negligently as a result of the choice or the monitoring of the third party or the instructions given to him, independently of the intentional or negligent nature of the conduct of the third party.’ The opinion of the Advocate General was found by the court to be helpful: ‘a non-compliance is to be penalised only on the basis of the personal responsibility of the aid beneficiary, but that he need not have committed the non-compliance in person.’

That was all very well, but the Stody case related to acts done by an employee, not by a contractor. PannageMan is not a lawyer, and does not wish to research the full gamut of corporate and employment law, but he recalls a principle whereby an employer is liable for the actions of employees unless it is determined that those actions were so contrary to what was required and expected of the employee that the employee must have been off on a ‘frolic of his own’. Whatever, the court chose to chart a different course. It was unpersuaded by counsel for the Secretary of State that the European Court’s decisions in relation to competition law had treated the decisions of employees as binding the employer (para.35): ‘competition law operates as a deterrent whereas the primary purpose of the SPS is to incentivise, to encourage farmers to conserve wildlife and the environment.’ Well, hardly — and even less so if offences against the environment are to attract only a trivial and infrequent sanction under the scheme.

Equally, the court rejected a fairly heroic intervention from counsel for the National Farmers’ Union (which obtained permission from the court to intervene: perhaps the Stody estate was backed by the CLA instead) that, under the EU regulation, it was necessary that a breach was committed by the farmer him, her or itself — and in relation to the claimant company, the Union suggested that meant the managing director, Mr MacNicol, or perhaps, but only perhaps, his estate manager.

But the court did find ‘that there is no uniform understanding across Member States of the distinction between employees and independent contractors’, and the principles of the Van der Ham case could not be confined to farms using contractors. A farmer, for the purposes of the direct payments regulations, did not mean any or every employee. Mr Lambert’s activities could not, ‘without more’, satisfy ‘the requirement in Article 23 that cross-compliance breaches be “the result of an act or omission directly attributable to the farmer”.’ The Minister’s decision to impose penalties was quashed.

The judgment is at first worrying, but perhaps also understandable. Worrying, because it appears at first blush to let farmers off the hook for the deeds of their employees (or indeed, anyone else other than the directing mind of the business). That seems to offer a ‘get out of jail free’ card for any breach — ‘I didn’t do it, it was my farm worker, I told him not to do it’. But as the judge points out, in Van der Ham, the European Court did not give a farmer immunity for the actions of a contractor: it said (para.50, quoted at para.21 of the judgment): ‘In such a case, even if the beneficiary of aid’s own conduct is not directly the cause of that non-compliance, it may be the cause through the choice of the third party, the monitoring of the third party or the instructions given to the third party.’ In other words, the farmer may still be held liable, but there must be some evidence that the conduct of the farmer is intentional or negligent, perhaps in failing to properly brief an employee or contractor (e.g. as to environmental features protected by cross compliance, or failing to take steps to follow up allegations of raptor poisoning). In practice, where the penalty imposed is at the lower end of the scale at around three per cent, it may not be too difficult to find that the farmer acted negligently by failing to properly regulate the activities of those working on the farm, whatever their relationship to the farmer. After all, if you ask a contractor to harrow a field, but fail to point out that there’s a footpath across it which you want reinstated, it’s not hard to conclude that you’ve been negligent. But it’s quite another thing to demonstrate that the intention of an employee is the intention of the employer.

This appears to shift the burden onto the Secretary of State (or at least, the Rural Payments Agency) to establish intention or negligence. But not so fast. The judge (para.35) notes: ‘the approach of the Court in Van der Ham to an evidential presumption adopted by the Dutch authorities: the Court had no objection, provided that an opportunity was given to the farmer to rebut the presumption (see the discussion at paras 38–42 of the Van der Ham decision).’ So the Agency can presume the farmer to be responsible, but must give the farmer an opportunity to challenge the presumption. And that is exactly what the appeal panel should be doing — if only it were properly briefed. Instead, it approached the Stody case on the assumption that the estate was inevitably liable for the wrongs of its employees, and merely had to relay any mitigation to the Minister. It will surely now hear the claimant again, and form a view as to whether the estate had acted intentionally or negligently in the matter of the raptor poisoning.

Alternatively, of course, the Secretary of State may appeal (there is no suggestion in the report of a referral to the European Court). But I suspect that is unlikely, as Ministers may well be content with a decision which constrains their power to impose penalties. Farmers will like that.

The withered arm

General Posted on Tue, 05 July 2016 10:11

Debbie and I acquired a horsebox about eight years ago. It opened up many new opportunities to explore the Surrey countryside on horseback, riding our two horses. One of the hacks which quickly became a favourite circuit is based on the rough parking area at Albury green (actually part of Albury Heath). Most riders who come here, whether from local stables or, like us, in a horsebox, then head west down Sandy Lane and up to the many sandy paths on Blackheath, which is indeed rewarding.

But we soon ‘discovered’ a more diverse ride to the east. It takes us over Shere Heath, down the deeply incised Dark Lane, over two fords on Chantry Lane and the delightfully narrow Rectory Lane, through the heart of Shere village (teeming with visitors on bright weekends), east towards Gomshall, then up Tower Hill Lane — another sunken lane doubtless of great vintage — and down Jesses Lane before heading west again along cross-field bridleways, descending down an enclosed path to Hound House Road, up to Parklands, across the bridle crossing over the railway at Shere Heath, and back to Albury Heath. We come this way perhaps once every month or two: the land is well drained, and the paths a pleasure in every season.

Dark Lane Copyright Stefan Czapski and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Or at least, we did. Yesterday’s ride demonstrated the long term impact of successive years of cuts to the county’s rights of way budget. Whereas, when we first came this way, paths might have got cut three times a year, now there are funds sufficient for only one — and that’s true of most paths in the county. Tackling vegetation just once a year is always going to be far from sufficient: if the contractors arrive late in the summer, that leaves users to press through the entire growth of the spring. While if a vernal cut is done, much will regrow during the summer, and passage may well remain restricted even through the following winter. Horse riders are particularly disadvantaged by overgrowth:

  • horse and rider are taller than walkers, up to about 2.75m, but contractors may not be paid, bother, think, or notice, to clear above head height,
  • whereas walkers might use a stick or secateurs to deal with overhanging vegetation, it’s not so easy to do that on horseback, and could set off the horse where careful progress is most required,
  • horses are as susceptible to, and averse to, nettle stings and bramble scratches as humans, but have no means to insulate themselves (such as thick trousers or an unfurled map!) — see this posting on Facebook for what can happen [Facebook login likely to be required],
  • low branches or projecting brambles are hazardous: the horse has little sense of any obstruction above its own height, and the rider must watch out for him or herself — else the rider may be injured or knocked off.

Over the last ten or fifteen years, the bridleways, lanes and indeed many roads we have been riding have been getting narrower and more hemmed in. This is because the use of contractors on diminishing budgets has established a cycle of decline.

Each contractual period, firms bid for the cutting contract on price. Once the contract is awarded, they have no incentive to perform on specification, and will do the minimum that is necessary to permit passage (at least, on foot). The contract will provide for a minimum width, but will not take account of the character of the path, so each year, the vegetation on the outer edges of the path becomes better established and closes in. After a few years, saplings growing in the margins become trees, and can only be removed with a saw, which would add time and cost to the performance of the contract, so they are left. Those trees project branches over the path, or lean into the path to draw light, which narrows what is left for the user (and creates more work for contractors in future years: but that will be some other contractor’s job). The council has no wish to demand compliance with even the limited contract specification, because to do so would push up bid prices in future — and the council cannot afford to pay more. So each party turns a blind eye to the specification. Ways which were once broad lanes become narrow paths, and even if cut to specification, allow for little more than the profile of a horse rider in the days immediately after the work has been done. Three months later, however, or after heavy rain weighs down all the branches, it is very different.

And so it was yesterday. We are familiar with Tower Hill Lane, an old sunken bridleway heading south out of Gomshall, as a steady uphill trot for the horses, but no more. Nettles infest the first thirty metres, while endless low branches on the lower section make it unwise to pick up any speed. The top part has always been a bit narrow, but now, the combination of brambles, bracken and holly made it all but impassable: had it been physically possible to turn round, we would have done. I had brought a pair of secateurs with me, but it is hard to do more than remove the most threatening strands which are suspended provocatively across the path when you’re mounted. The outcome was a left arm covered in scratches, horses’ flanks covered in nettle stings, and an £80 new pair of breeches looking like they’re fit only for mucking out.

We can, and will, report the overgrowth to the council. The rights of way team has recently lost three officers and has a huge backlog of unfulfilled reports. Even if there is someone to act on the report, there probably won’t be any budget to deal with spot problems, and these paths will have to await their annual cut. We don’t know when the cut will take place: it could be this week, or it might not be until the end of the summer — or it might have already taken place, and that’s it for this year. I’m not sure even the council officers know, individually, which path is cut when: that may be a matter of considerable discretion for the contractors (which will also save money). So we have no idea when it might be sensible to return, although a visit during the winter might be more realistic. Instead, perhaps we will head west in the future, along with all the other riders, and ride over the unenclosed tracks on Blackheath instead.

Some will say that a few overgrown paths impassable to horse riders is no big deal at a time of searing cuts to public services. Yet these are paths in one of the most popular areas for rural recreation in England: about 40km from central London, easily accessible to millions, hugely popular for walking, cycling and horse riding. If paths in the Surrey Hills are becoming difficult to use, what can we expect in the more remote parts of England (to find out, try reading Catriona Cook’s day 8 blog of the Journey for Access from Dartmoor to the New Forest)?

After the ride

And if motorists think that they’re immune from such trials, don’t be so sure. Just the same cuts are being made to road maintenance budgets, and in the same way, many roads have their vegetation cut just once a year. Trees have become well established in the verges and hedges, many roads have become enveloped in walls (and often ceilings — try a double deck bus route in the countryside) of greenery, and we have greatly increased the costs of future maintenance by reducing expenditure in the short term. Try taking a delivery van down some of those minor roads which we road last weekend, such as Chantry Lane, and you’ll find it’s not just horses and riders that end up with scratches. On some roads, even motorists struggle to avoid the overhanging brambles and branches, and this will continue to deteriorate.

A concluding thought: last year, Chantry Lane, which apart from being a useful road for walkers, riders and cyclists, also serves two cottages, was resurfaced. There was nothing particularly bad about the state of the road before, but the highways authority, like many others, receives additional, ring-fenced funding (Surrey receives nearly £1m in 2016–17, now virtually the only grant paid for specific purposes) for resurfacing roads. So it is that the council can afford to resurface a truly minor road to some cottages — but it cannot find the funds to keep the high, roadside banks from closing in over the smart new blacktop. on commons

General Posted on Sun, 06 December 2015 11:05

Government guidance on commons and greens, most notably on applying to update the registers of common land and town or village greens held by certain local authorities (i.e. ‘commons registration authorities’), has undergone the transformation to ‘smarter guidance’, part of a Government-wide project to reduce the volume of all public sector guidance, and to improve its quality, consistency and accessibility.

The key to the new guidance is the launch page, Common land: guidance for commons registration authorities and applicants, which contains links to specific pages of guidance in two groups, targeted at commons registration authorities, and at the public who may have an interest in the registers.

The original guidance was published in two volumes targeted at the same two interests. Each volume was pretty lengthy: the guidance to authorities (ver. 2.0 is currently still available on, and in any case, via the National Archives) tallied at around 180 pages. The new guidance, which is advertised as at ‘beta’ stage, is divided into several now much briefer themes. Guidance to authorities is available on:

And the same themes are available to anyone looking to make such applications (there is, understandably, no parallel theme for maintaining the register):

Much has changed. Indeed, the switch to ‘smarter guidance’ is not the first occasion on which the guidance has been pared down: version 2.0 replaced version 1.43 in December 2014, and at that time excluded guidance about commons councils, the protection of common land, local authority schemes of regulation and management, ‘intervention’ (enforcement), vehicular access over common land and greens, deregistration and exchange, and public access rights over common land, all contained in chapter 3, which is as close as Defra has got to fulfilling the Parliamentary commitment to publishing a circular on common land (Lords Hansard, 30 Nov 2005, Col.281) — albeit the guidance has never formally applied outside the commons registration authority areas pioneering Part 1 of the Commons Act 2006.

The new guidance is concise, even terse, and lacks an explanation or context: the commons registration officer is informed, for example, that two authorities may enter into a straddling agreement as regards land straddling the authorities’ common boundary (so that “only 1 [sic] of you’ll [sic] be responsible for the registration of that land”), and even that agreements made before 1 April 1974 expired on that date — but not the legislative authority for such agreements, nor the legislative cause of the demise of pre-1974 agreements. This isolation from the legal context is found throughout the guidance (indeed, it’s common to smarter guidance generally) and may make it less daunting and therefore helpful to the casual reader, but it may also impair its utility to a local government officer who wishes to understand, and justify, why the guidance is framed as it is. Nor does the new guidance offer the local government officer any interpretation or explanation of the legislation beyond the bare recital of its requirements. So, for example, the guidance to authorities on dealing with applications to register a statutory disposition (such as a compulsory purchase order affecting common land) states that: “Statutory dispositions normally come into effect after the date on which they’re confirmed. You’ll need to check its [sic] terms to find the date on which it has or will come into effect, as you can only register land or rights after that date.” But there is no illustration of what this might mean in a particular case, or what to look for in the statutory disposition, as there was previously, to ensure that the instrument is effective and capable of being registered. Exceptionally, the guidance to authorities on registering a new town or village green does include some references to case law, albeit the citation of cases is inconsistent and truncated, and there are no hyperlinks to or elsewhere.

Inevitably in such a large rewrite, a number of questionable aspects have found their way into the text. For example, in advice to authorities on dealing with applications and proposals:

  • under amend your register, the advice is that, “If you make an amendment that isn’t a deletion, you must transfer the information on the whole sheet to a new form” — this advice is based on r.8(1) of (The Commons Registration (England) Regulations 2014), but this requirement applies only if the register sheet is non-compliant with the 2014 Regulations;
  • under site visits authorities are informed that: “You can visit unclaimed land without permission”, but the definition given of what is unclaimed land makes the advice questionable even if one assumes that it is proper for an officer without a power of entry to enter onto land because the owner cannot be identified;
  • under land or rights that belong to the Church of England, authorities are advised on how to deal with “land or rights that belong to the church”, but the advice is relevant only to land or rights that belong to a benefice (and which are held by the incumbent where one has been appointed), and not where the land or rights belong to the Church otherwise.

I submitted these observations to ‘Is there anything wrong with this page?’ today, so we’ll see what happens.

Perhaps the most remarkable diminution in guidance is that specifically directed at applicants to register a town or village green, which is now contained in Commons registers: apply to record new events, under Apply to register a town or village green. This now comprises 43 lines: indeed, one will find more (82 lines) in the preceding section on Apply to register a statutory disposition (there is more about the mechanics of making an application in the separate guidance on Commons registers: how to apply to make changes). The potential applicant would be well advised (but is not advised) to refer to the somewhat more detailed guidance provided to the commons registration authority — or better still, to refer to the guidance published by the Open Spaces Society, Getting Greens Registered. Section 7.11 of version 1.3 of the guidance to applicants in the pioneer areas (not found online) published in 2013 provided over six pages on registering town or village greens, while version 1.3 of the guidance (available via the National Archives webarchive) to applicants elsewhere in England specifically on registering greens extended to 20 pages. For those who yearned for further detail, section 8.10 of version 1.43 of the guidance to commons registration authorities (available via the National Archives webarchive) published in 2011 filled 26 pages, much of it drafted by a well known barrister specialising in town or village greens cases.

Yet while it remains possible to access some earlier versions of the guidance, it is not kept up-to-date, and the lay reader will have no likelihood of locating it, let alone any means of knowing whether any particular aspect of it remains valid. The majority must therefore rely on what appears on It is not hard to understand why the new guidance lacks much of the content of the old — content requires revision, and revision requires resources. The law on registering town or village greens in particular continues to evolve through challenges in the courts, and what was written several years ago — even by a barrister — may be misleading today. Still, it is a pity that no signposts have been included to direct the lay reader to more fertile sources of guidance.

Decision making in local authorities with executives

General Posted on Sun, 15 February 2015 11:01

DCLG is half way through a consultation on the proposed Local Authorities (Functions and Responsibilities) (England) Regulations 2015. The regulations, if made, would not be novel, but would consolidate the Local Authorities (Functions and Responsibilities) (England) Regulations 2000 and no fewer than 15 amending regulations. The consultation closes on 6 March and one suspects that the intention is to make the regulations before the end of March in order to clock up the revocation of a further 16 statutory instruments before the election.

The regulations are a consequence of the legitimisation of executive forms of local government introduced by Part II of the Local Government Act 2000, meaning that, where authorities have an executive in place, many decisions must be made by an executive mayor or a small cabinet of executive councillors. The effect of s.13 of the 2000 Act is that decision making is vested in the executive unless regulations provide otherwise. Broadly speaking, the regulations tend to provide that regulatory functions are not capable of being discharged by the executive: e.g. licensing and planning development control. However, any function may nevertheless be delegated to officers, either under s.101(1)(a) of the Local Government Act 1972, or under s.14, 15 or 16 of the 2000 Act.

As an example, the existing regulations (para.3 of part I of Sch.1 to the 2000 Regulations) require that the ‘power to divert footpaths and bridleways’ under s.119 HA 1980 is one which cannot be exercised by an executive member, but must be done by committee or by council (or by an officer, if an appropriate delegation is in place). This is why highway authorities have rights of way, regulatory, or similar committees to discharge these functions, even if they operate executive arrangements, and of course, why every planning authority still has a planning committee.

The consultation is of considerable relevance to highway authorities, because of the continuing requirement that public path orders are not made by the authority though executive arrangements. Note, however, that the relevant entries in Part I of Sch.1 to the draft regulations refer to exercising the power to ‘make’ an order, which suggests that confirmation of an unopposed order could be done by the executive.

There are also various other specified commons, CROW access, highway and rights of way functions which, generally as before, are excluded from executive arrangements, including:

  • power to enter into agreements to form means of access under s.35 CROW 2000
  • power to create means of access under s.37 CROW 2000
  • registration functions under s.13 Commons Registration Act 1965 (with exceptions)
  • registration functions under Part 1 Commons Act 2006 (with exceptions)
  • power to apply for enforcement order under s.41 Commons Act 2006
  • power to protect unclaimed common land under s.45 Commons Act 2006
  • power to authorise gates and stiles on public paths s.147 Highways Act 1980

There is also a rather bizarre removal of reference in the regulations to determination of applications for public path orders under s.118ZA of the Highways Act 1980, because that provision is not yet in force, yet with Royal Assent to the Deregulation Bill imminent, it may well be commenced in the next few months (the consultation does not even mention the parallel s.119ZA). From which one might guess that there has been no thorough prior consultation within Government, and it’s all a desperate rush to complete the job before Parliament is dissolved and no new regulations may be laid before Parliament.

Welcome to PannageMan

General Posted on Wed, 23 October 2013 23:05

This new blog will accompany the Twitter handle @PannageMan, and will contain occasional posts expanding on tweets mainly about common land: news, court cases, notable applications and decisions, perhaps even the odd visit. It may stray into town and village green and rights of way territory too. Any views expressed here or on Twitter will be entirely my own.