Deregulation Act: Update.
The Deregulation Act 2015. Where next?
So, after over 18 months of hard work and worry for LARA and its Members, the Deregulation Bill passed into law as the Deregulation Act 2015 on 26 March, just in time before Parliament is dissolved ahead of the General Election. In the end the ‘antis’, seeking to amend the Act so as to wipe out unmetalled public roads once and for all, did not get their way, but you can bet your pension on their coming back later for another try.
The provisions in the Act dealing with public rights of way do not have a great deal of impact on motorists. There will be a power for highway authorities to authorise gates, rather than cattle grids, on byways open to all traffic, but we - more than horse riders and people with mobility disability - can live with that.
The big gain in the Act for motor sport is the ability to get local road closure orders to facilitate the running of motor sport events (races, rally stages, hill-climbs, etc.) on public roads. This change, like those for rights of way matters, will not come into force until sets of regulations (Statutory Instruments) and guidance have been drafted and cleared through Parliament. That is likely to take a year at least.
It is not a product of the new Act itself, but the Minister promised Parliament that there will be a ‘Motoring Stakeholder Working Group’ to examine all the concerns raised about vehicles in the countryside during the Bill debates. This MSWG, which is currently being set-up by DEFRA and Natural England, will be tasked to seek and hear evidence and report back to the Minister in 18 months of starting work. There will then be a ‘public consultation’, and be sure that the ‘antis’ will maximise their opportunity in that.
This is all for England only, but similar issues are being discussed in the Welsh Assembly, which body is already looking ahead to an Environment Bill for Wales. The same ‘antis’ are now active west of Offa’s Dyke, having sniffed another opportunity to tell it like it isn’t.
And so, a lot more work lies ahead …
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