Regular use by the public of an informal path, or land for lawful sports and pastimes, can result in those rights being formalised and recorded. You can protect your land against claims for public rights of way, or village green rights, by showing that, at the relevant time, you did not intend these rights to be acquired. This can be done by physical actions such as displaying notices, fencing the land or locking gates.
One option for landowners to protect their land is set out in legislation. This enables the landowner (or their agent) to send to Devon County Council a statement and map, showing the extent of their land and what rights they admit exist over it (view the interactive map to see existing public rights of way). This will protect the land from claims for additional rights of way from the date of deposit for a period of up to twenty years, at which time it may be renewed by submitting a further declaration. Once lodged with the County Council, the map, statement and declaration become public documents and available for public inspection. All local authorities are required to keep a public register of maps and statements deposited, and declarations lodged under Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980.
How to make an application
If you want to make an application to submit a highways statement (to protect your land against claims for rights of way) and/or a landowner statement (to protect your land against claims for village green rights), and/or a declaration, view our further guidance document. The CA16 application form along with further guidance is available at GOV.UK – Commons Act 2006: landowner statements, highways statements and declarations form.
Highways statements/Declarations and combined statements
For information regarding highways statements, highways declarations, and combined statements, please contact:
Public Rights of Way, Devon County Council, County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter EX2 4QD.
Tel: 0345 155 1004 (please ask for Public Rights of Way)
For information regarding landowner statements only, please contact:
Land Charges, Devon County Council, County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter EX2 4QD.
Tel: 0345 155 1004 (please ask for Land Charges)
All applications will need to be accompanied by a basic fee of £420 to cover the Council’s costs of logging the application, making it available on our website and register, placing notices on site and sending notifications, in line with the new regulations. If the deposit comprises several parcels of land which are not adjacent, there may be an additional fee to pay, so for further advice prior to completing Form CA16, please contact the Public Rights of Way service at Devon County Council.
Applications for highways declarations can be made at any point within 20 years from the date the statement was deposited. However, if a highways declaration is received at Devon County Council within 28 days of the initiating statement, it will be processed at no extra cost.
Register of landowner statements, highways statements and declarations
Devon County Council is responsible for keeping a public register of the statements and declarations deposited in both paper and electronic format. The paper version may be viewed at County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter, EX2 4QD, Monday to Friday 9.30am – 4.00pm. (For the register of landowner statements please ask for Land Charges; for the register of highways statements and declarations please ask for Public Rights of Way).