Monmouthshire County Council has responded to public debate about access to the footpath that runs alongside Severside rifle range and has launched a consultation to gather information about any unrecorded paths at the site and the immediate area.
Early in summer 2020, the occupiers of the Severnside Rifle Range, Caldicot, erected barriers across the crest of the flood defence wall. A public footpath runs through the range, close to the flood defence wall but it is impassable and potentially dangerous having been rendered unavailable by historic engineering works. As such, the path has been closed until 23rd December 2021 by Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TRO).
Monmouthshire County Council is in the process of trying to extend this TRO with Welsh Government authorisation. Details of the closure can be found at: monmouthshire.gov.uk/countryside-services/countryside-access/temporary-path-closures/
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the council has a duty to keep the Definitive Map and Statement (DM&S) – the legal document recording public paths – under continuous review. The public’s response to the erection of barriers therefore requires Monmouthshire County Council to investigate if any unrecorded paths exist at the site.
The council is now inviting local residents and other interested parties to submit evidence relating to any alleged unrecorded paths at the site. The data and evidence collected will form the basis of an investigation by the council, which could result in the updating of the DM&S through the making and confirmation of a Definitive Map Modification Order.
Once the consultation period has ended and if no objection to any potential orders have been received, the decision to make an order will be made at officer level under delegated powers. If objections are received, all available evidence will be presented to the council’s Public Rights of Way Advisory Committee for it to make a decision. If the evidence shows that a path is reasonably ‘alleged to subsist’ then the council will be duty bound to make a path order. If evidence is provided to refute the ‘reasonably alleged to subsist’ test, no order will be made.
Further information will be publicised once the consultation is closed and the responses have been examined. To take part in the consultation visit monmouthshire.gov.uk/countryside-services/countryside-access/public-path-order-consultations/ before it closes on 31st January.
If anyone with additional evidence regarding the status of the routes wishes it to be assessed and included in the final report, please send it to Monmouthshire County Council’s Definitive Map officer Mandy Mussell at MandyMussell@monmouthshire.gov.uk before 31st January 2022.