Public rights of access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000
Public rights of access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000

The following Planning guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Public rights of access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000
  • Mapping access land
  • ‘Coastal margin’
  • Dedication of access land
  • Registration of dedicated land as a local land charge
  • Limitations of the public right of access
  • Excepted land
  • Schedule 2 restrictions
  • Chapter II exclusions and restrictions
  • Occupier's liability
  • more

Part I of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CRWA 2000) provides a statutory public right of access on foot over:

  1. mapped areas of ‘open country’, including mountain, moor, heath and down

  2. virtually all registered common land

  3. ‘coastal margin’, as specified by the Secretary of State under CRWA 2000, s 3A (as inserted into CRWA 2000 by Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, ss 303(2) and 303(5)) in accordance with the Access to the Countryside (Coastal Margin) (England) Order 2010, SI 2010/558

  4. ‘dedicated land’, ie land dedicated by its owners for public access under CRWA 2000, s 16(1)

Any land which is subject to the public right of access is called ‘access land’.

Mapping access land

In England, the extent of current access land is mapped by Natural England (as the successor to the Countryside Agency). The Countryside Council for Wales fulfils the same function in Wales.

These maps are regularly reviewed and updated in accordance with CRWA 2000, s 10. These maps should be searched, and appropriate preliminary enquiries should be made, when acting for the buyer of potential access land.

‘Coastal margin’

The ‘coastal margin’ is essentially a long distance walking trail around the open coast of England, together with adjacent land. More information about the English Coastal Path is available on the Natural