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Common Land                            

The Commons Act 2006 was passed to protect our common land for current and future generations, and deliver real benefits in terms of sustainable farming, public access and biodiversity.It is therefore important that we look at the provisions of this Act especially for Commons that should be registered but are currently omitted form the commons register.

What is Common Land or What are Commons?

In general terms, common land is land owned by one person over which another person is entitled to exercise rights of common (such as grazing animals or cutting bracken for livestock bedding), and these rights are generally exercisable in common with others.

However, in legal terms, the situation is more complex. There is no single definition of the term 'common land', or indeed of 'common' or 'common rights'.

What is significance of Common Land for Access on Horse (or on Foot).

All Common Land became Open Access land under the terms of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW Act). BUTr the CROW Act only gave access ON FOOT on Open Access Land.

HOWEVER there is a certain type of Common Land included under the CROW Act (Section !5) which is Land Subject to S193 of the Law of Property Act 1925 which are

Urban commons
Metropolitan commons
Rural commons with a deed of declaration

The Judgement by the High Court in 1998 in what is known as the "Billson Case" confirmed that the right to air and exercise on such commons includes a right to air and exercise under the Law and Property Act included the right to use on horseback.

The Commons Act 2006

This Act was passed to protect our common land for current and future generations, and deliver real benefits in terms of sustainable farming, public access and biodiversity.

Part 1 of the Act requires commons registration authorities to bring their registers up-to-date by recording past changes affecting the registers during a ‘transitional period’. Once the transitional period is underway, they will also have to keep the registers up-to-date by recording new changes affecting the registers. Commons registration authorities will have new powers to correct many of the mistakes in the registers.

In England, implementation of the registration provisions in the Act begins with a pilot scheme, from October 2008. Implementation is expected to be rolled out to the rest of England in stages from October 2010 onwards.

There are seven counties participating in the pilot project and Cornwall is one of them.

The Commons Registration (England) Regulations 2008, which apply to the participating commons registration authorities only, prescribe the process for making applications to amend the registers of common land and town and village greens. The pilot allows applications, and proposals (effectively the registration authorities applying to themselves), to be submitted for both the registration of new events affecting the register and also past events which went unrecorded between the late 1960s and the present day. This includes the registration of land that was missed during the first wave of registration under the 1965 Act and also the deregistration of land that was wrongly registered under that Act.

The Potential Benefit to the Rights of Access for Horse Riders
Some commons were not registered or registration refused for various reasons that now have been deemed invalid. As mentioned above for Common Land in what were the old Urban or Metropoliton Districts there is deemed right for "Air and Exercise" that includes horses riding. Many small towns in Cornwall were Urban districts eg St Just and St Ives in West Cornwall. Many do have associated common land. We believe that there could be Commons in these old urban districts that should have been registered that were not included or regsitartion refused. A typical reason being that the "waste" land did not directly physically link to the old "manor" despite belonging to it. Such land does now qualify for registration. Thus we could gain some access rights on such land.

The Process for getting Common Land which was incorrectly omitted registered

An application has to be made to the Registration Authority, for Cornwall this is the new unitary Cornwall Council.

The research and information necessary for making an application does seem tedious.

More information is available on www.commonsreregistration.org.uk.

For Cornwall detailed information is available on Cornwall, Commons Act Home Page

Information is also available on the DEFRA Website http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-countryside/protected-areas/common-land/registration.htm

If you have any knowledge of commons in the old urban areas please do let us know  bhsaccesscornwall@btinternet.com