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A STRANGE TALE OF STONEHENGE

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Given that the summer solstice is fast approaching, it provides the excuse to regale those interested in highway law with a tale which comes close to being very strange.

It has to do with culs de sac[1], ancient monuments, the “vulgar public” and too much Latin.
Lord Eversley’s book “Commons, Forests and Footpaths The Story of the Battle During the Last Forty-Five Years for Public Rights Over the Commons, Forests and Footpaths of England and Wales” (Cassell & Co.) was published in 1910. He was the president of the, then, Commons Preservation Society (which later became the Open Spaces Society by merger). In part, the book explains the background to the fencing around Stonehenge and the legal battle which then ensued over it. As a broad generality, it is fair to say that it is difficult to show that a cul de sac is a highway.The problem being, of course, that it is not a through route.The conventional wisdom is that a highway is a route which connects two separate points.The conceptua…

QUESTIONS ON ENVIRONMENT BILL

I recently spoke (it this is the right word) at a webinar on the Environment Bill, hosted by Bath Publishing.  We had a good response in terms of questions from delegates (probably not the right word) but could not tackle them all on the day. I have listed them below and will try to answer them all over coming weeks.

SO WATCH THIS SPACE !



Can I just clarify - this Bill is for England only?Do you think local plans will need to demonstrate biodiversity/environmental improvement can be delivered on sites allocated for development to show they are viable, deliverable and developable (10% uplift in biodiversity/environmental improvement)?Where local planning authorities seek to achieve a net gain in biodiversity on current applications, i.e. ahead of the finalising of the Bill, how much weight does their request have when the gain isn't mandatory yet?Could the 'Responsible Person' be the Local Nature Partnership?Apologies if this will be answered later but existing policies allo…

ON WHY BIODIVERSITY ENHANCEMENT AND BIODIVERSITY NET GAIN AMOUNT TO THE SAME THING.

The re-emergence of the Environment Bill has heralded some considerable debate about the proposed statutory enshrinement of the concept of biodiversity net gain.There have been arguments about whether this a good thing or a bad thing.Arguably, those debates are slightly academic because the reality of the situation is that biodiversity net gain is already with us.

In terms of statute we have section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.Section 40(1) provides as follows: “(1) [A] public authority must, in exercising its functions, have regard, so far as is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions, to the purpose of conserving biodiversity.” A “public authority” includes a Minister of the Crown, a public body, a government department, a local authority and a local planning authority: Section 40(4). Section 40(3) then provides an extended definition of “conserving”: “(3) Conserving biodiversity includes, in relation to a living organism or type of habita…

THE ENVIRONMENT BILL AND STREET TREES

The Environment Bill contains an interesting proposal in relation to street trees and which will be of great importance to highway authorities.Unfortunately, it is let down by problematic draftsmanship.
My original feeling was that this would be a short introduction to a conceptually straight-forward set of draft provisions. Unfortunately, one comes across problems of draftsmanship from the outset and so the piece is much longer than I ever intended. So be it !

Introduction
Trees are, at the same time, both important and problematic. On the one hand, they make an important contribution to the reduction of carbon dioxide, add to the character and appearance of both urban and rural areas, aid the mitigation of unpleasant particulates, aid sustainable drainage and can be of cultural importance to those who see them as providing to a ‘sense of place’. On the other hand, they can disrupt footways, shed leaves (which can make footways slippery), obstruct highway visibility and can be a road-si…