Statutory declarations - a guide for landowners
Under Section 31 of the Highways Act 1980 as amended by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (Schedule 6, para. 3), a landowner can prevent the future acquisition of public rights of way over their land by depositing a map with this Council (with a scale of not less than 1:10,000) showing land owned by her/him, and a statement indicating which ways (if any) they admit are dedicated as highways. The map can indicate permitted ways but they must be clearly shown as such.
Within ten years from the day of deposit of the statement and map, a statutory declaration should be made by the owner (or his/her successor in title), and lodged with the Council, stating that no additional way over the land shown on the map (other than any specifically indicated in the statement) has been dedicated as a public highway. Subsequent statutory declarations are required at intervals of no more than ten years, for the map and statement to remain effective. They should be accompanied by further maps if necessary.
In this way a landowner can obtain some safeguards against future acquisition of public rights, but cannot remove any public rights that have been acquired prior to the statutory declaration being made. Please note that a landowner cannot make a declaration on behalf of another landowner.
Another way a landowner can show a lack of intention to dedicate is to erect notices. 'No Public Right of Way' or 'Permitted Bridleway Only' will show the intention of the landowner clearly but ambiguous notices, such as 'No Through Way' and 'Private Wood' should be avoided.
The closure of a permitted way on one day each year has long been recognised as a way of making the landowner's intention clear, but recent case law suggests that the landowner must make it clear to the public that they are closing the route for that day, and the reasons for doing so.
If you wish to make the declaration please submit a map together with a Statement, to the Council at the address below. We advise that you also complete and submit the Statutory Declaration at this time, and then subsequently at intervals of no more than 10 years. A template Statement and Statutory Declaration are available on request. If you require further assistance, please contact the Countryside Legal team using the details below or submit a request using our enquiry form.
Countryside Access, Merrow Depot, Merrow Lane, Guildford, GU4 7BQ
Tel 03456 009 009