Countryside Access: Mapping and excepted land
The right of access introduced by the CROW Act applies to all land mapped by the Countryside Agency (now Natural England) as open country (mountain, moor, heath, down) and registered common land in England. These areas appear on Ordnance Survey's Explorer map series, and online maps published by the Natural England on its website under a yellow wash.
Some land that has been mapped as open country or registered common land under the CROW Act is covered by other statutory rights of access. In these cases, although the land has been mapped, the CROW Act will not apply and the other existing statutory rights will remain in force.
Section 10 of CROW places a duty on Natural England to undertake a review of each of the conclusive maps issued by the Countryside Agency during the original mapping exercise, within 10 years of the conclusive maps being published. Section 10 does not specify how the review of the maps should be conducted, nor does it say that it must reflect the original mapping exercise.
Before the first review of the maps takes place, Natural England is considering different ways in which the review might be conducted, taking account of lessons learned from the original mapping exercise. Further information on the review can be found on Natural England’s website.
Decision on the mapping of registered common land in East Sussex
Because the East Sussex common land register was destroyed by fire in 1993, the Countryside Agency was unable to show registered common land in East Sussex on its map of open country and registered common land for the South East area.
Following reconstitution of the register, a decision has been made to map registered common land in East Sussex at the same time that the conclusive map for the South East is reviewed.
The Countryside Agency (now Natural England) has mapped all land which qualifies as open country (mountain, moor, heath, down) and registered common land. The CROW Act also introduces a new concept of "excepted land". This refers to types of access land that, because of their location or use, are not subject to the new rights - regardless of whether or not they appear on the new maps. There are 13 categories of excepted land:
- Land on which the soil is being, or has at any time within the previous twelve months been, disturbed by any ploughing or drilling undertaken for the purposes of planting or sowing crops or trees.
- Land covered by buildings or the curtilage of such land.
- Land within 20 metres of a dwelling.
- Land used as a park or garden.
- Land used for the getting of minerals by surface working (including quarrying).
- Land used for the purposes of a railway (including a light railway) or tramway.
- Land used for the purposes of a golf course, racecourse or aerodrome.
- Land which is covered by works used for the purposes of a statutory undertaking or a telecommunications code system, or the curtilage of any such land.
- Land which is being developed for any of the purposes described in points 2-8 above.
- Land within 20 metres of a building, which is used for housing livestock, not being a temporary or moveable structure.
- Land covered by pens in use for the temporary reception or detention of livestock.
- Land habitually used for the training of racehorses.
- Land the use of which is regulated by byelaws under section 14 of the Military Lands Act 1892 or section 2 of the Military Lands Act 1900.
As land use can change over time, land that is currently shown on the maps as open country may become excepted from the right of access in the future. Similarly, land which is excepted from the right of access now may be included if it ceases to be covered by these categories. If the boundaries to excepted land are not obvious, then landowners or access authorities may decide to put signs up to let people know.
Guidance for people using the right of access:
- Guidelines for recognising excepted land (PDF 14 KB)
Page last modified: 09 March 2009
Page published: 23 October 2008