What is a public right of way?
There are approximately 100 km of public rights of way in Merthyr Tydfil, 23km of these lie within the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Public rights of way have a legal status which allows people to use them at all times unless there are restrictions placed upon them.
The Council has a responsibility to ensure that these rights of way are kept free of obstruction and that their surface is kept in a reasonable condition.
The rights of way network in Merthyr Tydfil CBC consists of footpaths and bridleways. There is also a small number of byway's open to all traffic.
The Rights of Way within the County Borough provide people with the opportunity to walk, cycle or horseride enabling them to visit the surrounding countryside areas. They also act as useful short cuts in more urban areas.
Who can use a Public Right of Way?
Footpaths are for walkers. You are allowed to take a pram, pushchair and wheelchair on them, although some in more rural locations may be unsuitable for that use. You are permitted to take a dog with you, but, it must be kept under close control, please clean up after your dog as it is an offence to allow your dog to foul on a public right of way.
Bridleways are for walkers, horse riders and pedal cyclists. Cyclists must give way for walkers and horse riders. Motor cycles are not permitted on bridleways.
By-way open to all traffic are for walkers, horse riders, pedal cycles, and also other motorised vehicles.
The Definitive Map and Statement
What is the Definitive Map and Statement?
The Definitive Map and Statement is the legal record of Public Rights Of Way which are in existence within the County Borough.
The Definitive Map is the minimum record of Public Rights Of Way in existence, there may be rights of way which have been created but have not been entered onto the Definitive Map.
The Definitive Statement is the document which accompanies the map, it provides a description of all the routes which are recorded on the map, some of these statements are quite brief.
Where can I see the Definitive Map and Statement?
The Definitive Map and Statement is a public document and can be viewed at: The Rights of Way Section, Ty Keir Hardie, Riverside Court, Avenue De Clichy, Merthyr Tydfil, 8.30am to 12pm, 2pm to 4pm, Monday to Thursday, and 8.30am to 12pm, 2pm to 3.30pm on Friday.
We do not charge to view the documents, but, a photocopying charge will apply if extracts are required. It is advisable that you contact the Rights of Way Section before you arrange your visit to ensure somebody is available to help you.
Changing the Definitive Map
If you think that the definitive map is incorrect you can apply to the local authority to make a change to it.
You may apply for:
1) The addition of a route to the map - if the map does not show a route that you believe to be a public right of way, this is often known as "claiming a right of way"
2) The deletion of a route from the map - you may want this if you believe it is not or has never been a right of way.
3) A change of status of a route on the definitive map - e.g., downgrading a bridleway to a footpath.
Diversion, extinguishment, or creation of a right of way
Public rights of way can only be diverted or extinguished by a legal order being carried out, this order is known as a public path order, they are also created in this way.
I want to divert a Right of Way, what do I do?
Landowners can apply for a diversion of a public right of way running across their land. This process is open to objection from members of the public. Landowners must be aware they will be required to pay an administration charge, and the full costs of the advertisements which need to be placed in the local press, the applicant will also be required to pay any compensation claims which could arise as a result of a possible diversion, e.g., loss of amenity to adjacent landowners.
I want to claim a Right of Way, what do I do?
If you use a route and are unsure if it is a public right of way the first thing to do is contact the Rights of Way Section, by doing this you can check if the route you use is on the definitive map, if it is not you can apply to the local authority to claim the route.
The local authority will provide you with a guideline pack which will provide you with information on completing the application, and all the forms you require. Once all the relevant forms are completed and returned to the local authority the Rights of Way Section will investigate the claim, this usually involves a site inspection, historical research and consultations with people who provided evidence and those who have an interest in the land.
Once officers have completed their investigations a report is prepared and submitted to Council and there can be two outcomes to this:
1) If Council approves the application a legal order will be prepared. Notices will be placed on site describing the effect of the order, and they will also be published in the local press and sent out to all interested parties. The notice will invite anyone who disagrees with the order to make a formal representation or objection. If objections are received and not withdrawn, the order will be referred to the Welsh Assembly government, who may deal with it by exchange of letters, an informal hearing or a public inquiry.
2) If Council refuses the application, the applicant has a right of appeal to the Welsh Government. The Welsh Government will then make the decision to approve or reject the application.