We are now in the final year of the 4-year transitional period which was put in place in Cumbria under the Commons Act 2006, to allow the commons registers to be updated.
Commons Registers, which are administered in Cumbria by the Cumbria Commons Registration Authority, set out the following in relation to each registered common:
- the extent of the registered common;
- who is the owner of the common;
- who holds common rights over the common;
- and what land those common rights are attached to (if any).
It is frequently found that that commons registers are incorrect or out of date. This means that the person(s) who hold or should hold certain common rights (e.g. rights to graze) are not noted on the applicable commons register correctly, and even that parcels of land are registered common land when they should not be. Historical uses of land in the parish as watering holes for the use of the public, for example, could still exist on the commons register.
The period allowing applications to be made to correct errors on the Commons registers expires on 14 December 2018.
Applications should be made now to correct errors and record any historic sales of land or rights or transfers of commons rights that may have previously taken place, but which have not been recorded, or to remove common land from the registers altogether if the land in question is not in reality common land.
It is important that holders of commons rights take action now to check that the Commons Registers which relate to their rights are fully correct. Where the rights they hold are attached to land, they must check that they own all of the fields listed in column 5 of the Rights section of the register.
Any rights, which are unregistered or incorrectly registered after 14th December 2018, may be extinguished and lost forever. It is also important to do this so that common rights holders can satisfy the RPA/Natural England that they own the rights being claimed upon – the RPA/Natural England may refuse all or part of a claim, if the commons registers do not match the claim made.
Landowners should also check that none of their land is subject to incorrect commons registrations, and should apply for incorrect registered commons to be removed from the registers if their land has been erroneously registered as common land.
Holders of common rights and landowners should consult with their land agent or solicitor immediately in order to check that their interests are protected.
If you are a Cumbrian common rights holder or landowner and would like more information, contact Diane Barnes here.