Routes that have public rights of way for pedestrians, pedal cyclists and horses, but not horse-drawn carriages or motor vehicles.
Byway open to all traffic (BOAT)
Routes that have rights of way for pedestrians, horse riders, horse-drawn carriages, pedal cyclists and motor vehicles. To distinguish them from the ordinary, tar macadam road network, they are additionally defined as having the character of routes used mainly for the purposes for which footpaths and bridleways are used. BOATs are marked on Ordnance Survey maps with lines of green crosses. Vehicle rights on BOATs may be suspended by Traffic Regulation Orders (see below).
Definitive Map and Statement
The Definitive Map is a record of public rights of way. It is the legal record of all rights of way. Local authorities have a statutory duty to maintain the Definitive Map. Each right of way also has a written description referred to as the Definitive Statement. Generally, the Definitive Map takes legal precedence over the Definitive Statement. The Definitive map is and will always be a work in continuous progress. It is regularly updated to record new routes, diversions to existing routes and changes in the rights of way status of routes. The Ordnance Survey uses the Definitive Map as the basis of rights of way shown on its maps.
Routes that have public rights of way for pedestrians only.
A useful term, but one that has no legal standing. It signals an unsealed rural track – ie one that has no tarmac or concrete surface. It may be simply grass, or it may have, either wholly or in parts, a surface of cobbles or crushed stone.
See below under ‘Offroading’.
Horse hops are low obstacles which can be stepped over by horses, walkers and cyclists. They are low enough for pushchairs to be lifted over. They are often used alongside specially designed barriers which permit easy access for walkers, bicycles, push chairs and scooters used by people who are disabled. They are a physical barrier to 4x4s and trail bikes and quad bikes. They are common in many parts of the country as a way of protecting bridleways and other routes where illegal use by offroaders is a problem. Their use is not favoured by Derbyshire County Council or the Peak District National Park Authority. There is growing pressure for their use in the Peak District National Park as a way of stopping damage being done by widespread illegal offroading.
Lists of streets
The Highways Act 1980 requires every highway authority to maintain a list of streets whose maintenance is chargeable to the public purse. Unclassified County Roads (UCR) (see below) are typically recorded on lists of streets, along with lanes, footpaths and bridleways. The fact that a UCR is listed tells us nothing about the rights of way which may exist on it. It tells us only that it is publicly maintainable. This is the view of the government legal advisers in the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs and Defra advice to the Planning Inspectorate (which hears appeals against BOAT designations) now says so.
Local access forums (LAFs)
The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 set up LAFs in every area of the countryside. Their purpose is to give local authorities and national parks advice and recommendations on all matters to do with public access to the countryside. Members of LAFs are appointed by their local authority or national park authority.
LAFs must have a balanced membership and represent the interests of land-owners, farmers, and recreational users – including walkers, cyclists, equestrians and vehicle-users. LAF meetings are open to the public. They generally meet three or four times a year.
This is the term used in legislation to cover 4x4s, motor bikes and quad bikes. It does not include vehicles such as invalid scooters – these have motors but are not mechanically propelled. For convenience, we use ‘motor vehicles’ throughout this website, or we use ‘4x4s, motor bikes and quad bikes’. We are in favour of non-mechanically propelled vehicles using green lanes.
Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (NERC) 2006
This important act set severe limits to the expansion of the network of green lanes bearing rights of way for motor vehicles. Section 67 of the Act extinguishes, with a few exemptions, the motor vehicle rights on all routes recorded on the definitive map (see above) (and therefore on up-to-date Ordnance Survey maps) as footpaths, bridleways, or restricted byways. Before the NERC Act, recreational motor vehicle user groups took systematic advantage of the pre-existing law, which said that if a route – any route, regardless of its character – could be shown to have once been, maybe centuries ago, legally open to horse-drawn carts, it must be acknowledged now to bear rights for motor vehicles. NERC puts an end to this archaic ‘horse-and-cart’ rule, and gives protection to hundreds of green lanes that were under threat of being classified as motor routes. There are, however, exemptions under the NERC Act to the extinguishing of motor vehicle rights. These exemptions have led to many legal cases and public inquiries in which the new law has been tested. The significant exemptions to the extinguishment of rights for motor vehicles are these:
- Routes that are on the list of streets but not on the definitive map and which can be shown to have public vehicle rights.
- Routes for which applications for the recognition of vehicle rights were submitted before 20 January 2005.
- Routes where it can be shown that vehicle rights were created by virtue of legal, public motor vehicle use before 1 December
- Routes where it can be shown that the main legal use, between 2 May 2001 and 1 May 2006, was by motor vehicles.
Important tests of all of these exemptions have been made. Exemption number i) is regularly tested in order to establish whether any particular route on the list of streets has historic rights for motor vehicles. Exemption number ii) was tested in court and led to the ‘Winchester Judgment’ (see below). Numbers iii) and iv) have been tested at public inquiries where, so far, vehicle user groups have been unable to secure the vehicle rights that they were seeking. The exemptions provided by NERC present formidable obstacles to vehicle users who wish to engage them to upgrade to BOATs footpaths, bridleways and restricted bridleways. The Act does not, however, protect unclassified county roads (see below).
Non-classified highways (NCHs)
This is a term with no legal meaning as far as rights of way are concerned. It used by Derbyshire County Council to refer to any highway with an unsealed surface.
A term in widespread use and the one we use to describe the practice of driving or riding specially-designed motor vehicles – usually 4x4s and motorbikes, but sometimes quad bikes – along rural green lanes. Some offroaders object to the term because some of these lanes are legally open to motor vehicles and they think of them as roads, despite their being unsurfaced or just grassy tracks. An alternative term for is ‘green-laneing’ but this term has not caught on. It is used by some 4×4 users but not normally by motorbike riders.
Other routes with public access (ORPAs)
See below under ‘Unclassified County Roads’
Roads used as public paths (RUPPs)
This is an old highway classification which no longer exists. Legislation in 1981 required highway authorities to reclassify all RUPPs them as either Byways Open to All Traffic (BOATS) or as Restricted Byways.
Restricted byways (RB)
A right of way that excludes motor vehicles. RBs are open only to pedestrians, pedal-cyclists, horses, and horse-drawn carriages.
Traffic regulation order (TRO)
The legal way in which recreational motor vehicles may be prohibited from using green lanes. TROs may be imposed, usually after public consultation, by local authorities and national park authorities. TROs can range from full-time, 7-days-a-week prohibitions, to seasonal, or day-by-day prohibitions. TROs can be permanent, temporary, or experimental. They can exclude all recreational vehicles, or some: eg they can exclude 4x4s but not motorbikes. Usually,TROs exempt from the prohibition landowners and occupiers, emergency vehicles, invalid carriages, and vehicles requiring access to premises.
Trail bikes, trail bikers
The names given to the specialist, cross-country motorbikes, and the motorcyclists who ride them along green lanes. Not to be confused with Mountain-bikers – cross country pedal cyclists.
Unclassified county roads (UCR) or unsurfaced, unclassified county road (UUCR)
These routes are recorded on highway authority lists of streets (see above) and often on Ordnance Survey maps as ‘Other Routes With Public Access’ (ORPAs), marked with lines of green dots. UCRs certainly bear public rights of way for pedestrians, but beyond that, nothing is certain. It is likely that many of them bear rights for horse riders, pedal cyclists and motor vehicles, but the rights of way on UCRs have to be examined, case by case, by the highway authorities. This laborious and time-consuming examination, by under-staffed departments, will take many years.
The uncertainty that hangs over UCRs makes their use by 4×4 and motorbike groups contentious. If a vehicle user is challenged by the police for driving or riding along a UCR, he or she should be able to supply evidence that the route indeed bears public motor vehicle rights. But in the absence of certainty about the rights of way on most UCRs, the police do not always challenge vehicle users on them. The contentiousness of vehicle use of UCRs will increase. This is because as the NERC Act displaces vehicle users from routes that they formerly used with legal impunity, they move onto the UCRs. Since many UCRs are classic green lanes – quiet, unsealed tracks threading through the countryside – public’s hostility to offroading in the deep countryside will continue and increase. Unlike footpaths, bridleways and restricted byways, UCRs were not protected by the 2006 NERC Act (see above). They can, however, be protected through TROs, imposed either by local authorities or national park authorities.
Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA)
This is the legally-constituted authority set up to manage the Peak District National Park. Its principal statutory role is to ‘conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the National Park’. Its secondary duty is to ‘promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the areas by the public’. The so-called ‘Sandford Principle’ (see below) established that if there is a clash between these two duties, the duty of conservation is paramount.
So far, the PDNPA has not taken the view that recreational vehicle use of green lanes in the national park is intrinsically inappropriate. Its approach is to try to balance the needs of different user groups. Rather than seeking to ban motor vehicles on green lanes on environmental grounds by judicious use of its TRO powers (see above,) it is trying to manage shared use of green lanes between off-road vehicles and other users. It then looks to the highway authorities to repair the ensuing damage caused by 4x4s and trail bikes.
The PDNPA is certainly concerned about the problem and it has identified 23 routes in Derbyshire which it believes are not sustainable without repair. It is working with Derbyshire County Council on management plans for the eight of these routes which need the most urgent attention. But all this is taking years – years in which more and more damage is being done. The Peak District Green Lanes Alliance wants to see the PDNPA put in place plans to protect these routes from further damage once they are repaired. And it wants to see plans for permanent TROs on every environmentally vulnerable route in the national park.
This is the legal requirement placed on National Park Authorities by the Environment Act 1995 to give priority to conservation over recreation should it prove impossible to manage a conflict between the two.
White roads are a feature of Ordnance Survey maps but their presence on a map say nothing about which public rights of way may exist on them, if any.
This important legal judgment was issued by the Appeal Court in April 2008. It bore down heavily on applications from vehicle users for recognition of the vehicle status on many routes. The applications affected were those lodged before 20 January 2005 and therefore potentially exempt from the extinguishment of vehicle rights brought in by the NERC Act (see above). But a test case concerning an application to have a green lane in Hampshire acknowledged as a motor vehicle route established that in order to be counted as a valid application, the application had to have been framed in exact compliance with the regulations governing the submission of maps and evidence. In the Winchester case, the application was shown to be non-compliant. The confirmation by the Appeal Court of the rightness of this rejection established case law that has had the effect of invalidating hundreds of pending BOAT applications submitted by applicants before January 2005. These applications have failed and cannot be resurrected.