CLA Midlands has welcomed a rights of way consultation by Natural England that should enable land managers to put their legitimate concerns forward and cut red tape.
The Association is part of the Stakeholder Working Group on Unrecorded Rights of Way which has produced Stepping Forward, a report to Natural England to start the consultation process.
CLA Midlands Rural Surveyor Andrew Shirley said: "This marks the first step in reducing the needless bureaucracy that plagues public rights of way.
"The real problem is that some authorities have such a large backlog that it can take many years to clear. Some counties are taking 10 years or more before applications are looked at, during which time both sides are becoming more and more entrenched.
"I would also hope for clarity to the 2026 deadline for reclaiming supposedly lost rights of way. This will not reduce access to the countryside as public rights of way on the map by that date will remain, and new routes can be added by virtue of long use. It will however prevent spurious claims for routes taken from old documentation, often prepared for a different purpose, when there is no evidence of use on the ground or anything to do with today's recreational needs
"If the report's recommendations are implemented, it should cut red tape, allow landowners to put forward legitimate concerns about rights of way, while making the system better and easier.
Details of the Natural England consultation "Improvements to the policy and legal framework of public rights of way" can be found at:http://www.defra.gov.uk/consult/2012/05/14/improve-rights-of-way/
The CLA's own Policy Report "The Right Way Forward: The CLA's common sense approach to access in the countryside 2012" can be found at:http://www.cla.org.uk/ty/NF3Hm5/