20,000 footpaths are at riskMore than 500 people have signed an e-petition to the Prime Minister demanding that lost footpaths are protected.

20,000 footpaths are at risk

The petition, started by Janet Davis of the Ramblers’ Association, asks Gordon Brown to repeal sections of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act which will lead to any rights of way being lost forever if they are not recorded by 2026. The move follows the collapse of the Government-funded Discovering Lost Ways project, which was meant to record historic footpaths and bridleways in England and Wales.

The project was a dismal failure, with not a single route recorded. Now the RA is worried that sections 53 to 56 of the 2000 act, which it says were only included a sop to landowners as the law was going through Parliament, will lead to the right to walk up to 20,000 historic paths will be taken away.

The petitioner explains: “When the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill was going through Parliament the then Minister, Michael Meacher said: ‘We do not intend to [bring definitively to a close the exercise of determining the rights of way network] without ensuring that there are adequate resources to make it possible for all existing paths that can reasonably be found to be found.’

“The public therefore had a legitimate expectation that something would be done to record the so-called lost ways. Now that the promised resources have been withdrawn repeal of the cut-off date is essential.”

Previous e-petitions on outdoors matters have had little success, with Downing Street’s rejection of the wild camping petition started by Darren Christie causing even more consternation among outdoor professionals who said it overstated the law and actually risked making illegal many activities which are carried out regularly on Open Access Land.

You can visit the Downing Street website to add your name to the petition.

See also

'Clock is ticking' for 20,000 lost paths

Wild camping: 'PM's office is wrong'