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Can I prevent the public from claiming an official right of way through my land?

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"A walking group is cutting through my land as part of their route and I’m concerned they could claim this as a public right of way, what can I do to prevent this?"

If they have just started using the cut through then they should be stopped and told they are trespassing.

If the use has been over a longer period, the walkers may seek to make an application to the council for the path to be made a public right of way. They can apply to their Local Authority for a Definitive Map Modification Order (DMMO) if they feel that a public right of way is not recorded on the Definitive Map and should be.

Once submitted, the Local Authority first has to consult with the landowner and decide whether to make a draft DMMO for the new path. If that draft order is made, the landowner can object and the issue will be decided by a planning inspector.

There are steps you can take to prevent the public from continuing to use your land.

Put up signs to inform them it is private land, and prevent unauthorised access with gates and fences, and take photos for evidence.

The best way to prevent this is to submit a declaration under s31(6) of the Highways Act, making it clear there is no intention to dedicate a new right of way across the land. It needs to be renewed every 10 years.

JCP’s Rural Practice team specialises in a wide range of legal services, whether you need legal assistance with succession planning, agricultural business, or expert advice on land use and environmental issues.

To discuss rural matters contact the team at or 03333 208644.

The question posed is based upon a hypothetical situation.