28 August 2008 17:14
My local council wants to change the use of the bridlepath running near my yard to a BOAT (byway open to all traffic). What is a BOAT and what will it mean for everyone on my yard? Can we challenge it?
By Your Horse
Solicitior Martin Pate replies:
Section 66(1) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 defines a byway open to all traffic (BOAT) as: “A highway over which the public have a right of way for vehicular and all other kinds of traffic, but which is used by the public mainly for the purpose for which footpaths and bridleways are so used”. These used to be known as RUPPS – road used as public paths. A RUPP is a vague definition and many look at the historical use of the highway to determine what can and cannot use it.
BOATs are sometimes used by off-road vehicles for recreational purposes – this often results in the highway becoming muddy and unusable.
Rights of way are owned by the local authority and not by the landowners whose land they cross. It is possible to find out information relating to rights of way from your local authority. The path must be fit for its intended use and free from undergrowth and rubbish. If you find that it is overgrown or poorly maintained, then you should contact your local highway authority.
It is possible to change the use of a bridleway to a BOAT. However, this change can only be made by local or central government. The process begins with a Modification Order, which would be open to objections. This could lead to a public inquiry.
If the application is rejected, it is possible for the applicant to appeal to the Secretary of State. However, the process is rather lengthy and time consuming.
It is possible to find the information relating to the change of the highway use from your local highways authority.
● Martin Pate is a solicitor with MJP Law. Call on 01202 823666 or 01202 842929, or visit www.mjplaw.co.uk.