In addition to ordinary public vehicular roads with a tarmac surface, motor vehicles can legally be driven on many unsurfaced roads and Byways Open to All Traffic (BOATs) – provided that such use is not prohibited by a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO).
In this context, the term ‘unsurfaced roads’ refers to Unclassified County Roads (UCRs) without a sealed surface and where motor vehicular rights are known or presumed to exist. UCRs are highways recorded by the County Council on the List of Streets as maintainable at public expense.
A BOAT is a route that is recorded on the Definitive Map and Statement and carries rights for pedestrians, equestrians, horse-drawn vehicles, cycles and motor vehicles, but which is used mainly by the public for the purposes for which a footpath or bridleway is used.
Motor vehicles using UCRs and BOATs must be fully ‘road legal’ (i.e. licence, tax, insurance and MOT), and must obey the normal rules of the road.
You may also encounter vehicles on footpaths, bridleways or restricted byways that are being driven by the landowner, or with the landowners permission. In this case they are exercising a private right and not a public right.
Before using a UCR or BOAT with a motorised vehicle, or if you are concerned about motorised vehicles using one of these routes, please check the status of the route and whether or not there is already a Traffic Regulation Order in force on it.
Motorised vehicles should be driven responsibly at all times. Driving a motor vehicle on a footpath, bridleway, restricted byway or any other land without lawful authority is a criminal offence. Causing damage to a public right of way, whether intentionally or not, may also constitute an offence.
Motorised users should
If you have come across an example of illegal use of vehicles in the countryside, this is a police matter. Inform the police by contacting your local Country Watch Team by dialling 101 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with details of where and when the offence took place and request a crime reference number.
If the problem is one of possible illegal use, the Council will work with the police to try to ensure that the law is enforced. Illegal activity is not a ground on which a TRO can be made.
If the use is not illegal, but is causing problems because it is damaging the surface of the route, or because it is through a particularly sensitive area, the Council will look at ways to improve the management of the route to prevent or reduce the problems that may exist. This could mean carrying out surface repairs, improving drainage, erecting better signage or working with motorised user groups to promote good conduct or a voluntary restraint. If other approaches are trialled but fail to resolve the problem, a Traffic Regulation Order may be considered.
A Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) is a legal order made under the provisions of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 that can be applied to any public highway, including public Footpaths, Bridleways, Restricted Byways and Byways Open to All Traffic (BOAT).
A TRO can prohibit or restrict the use of a public path or way by a specific class of traffic (pedestrians, equestrians, cycles, horse-drawn vehicles or motor vehicles of a specified type).
TROs can have a range of effects, but are most commonly used to restrict or prohibit use by motor vehicles. They can restrict;
They can be seasonal or year-round, permanent or experimental. TROs can also be combined with a permit scheme to allow a certain level of use, or restrict those who do not use a particular lane responsibly.
In deciding whether to impose a TRO on a route, Hampshire County Council must act within the constraints of sections 1 and 122 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act and the Council’s published TRO Policy and Policy Statement. This guidance should be read in conjunction with those documents.
Restricting the rights of a specific group is not taken lightly and as such a TRO is always a last resort. Efforts will be made to manage the issues that exist on a particular route through other means before considering the use of a TRO. In accordance with the Council’s policy and government guidance, the least restrictive option will be sought in each case.
Other approaches that will be considered and/or trialled before a TRO will be considered include;
It is important that any proposal to impose a TRO is based on evidence, either of damage or of specific incidents, rather than a general feeling that a particular route is unsuitable for use by motor vehicles.
It is not appropriate to use a TRO to resolve issues of illegal activity, such as fly-tipping, dangerous/damaging driving (such as ‘mud-plugging’), or the use of a public right of way to access adjacent private land to drive illegally. The police have powers to address such illegal activity and any such incidents should be reported to them, requesting a crime reference number.
It is an offence to contravene a TRO. The Council does not have any powers to enforce a TRO, but will work with the police to encourage action to be taken where appropriate. In order for the police to be able to take action it is important that the required highway signs advertising the prohibition are displayed prominently at each end of the route and at junctions with other routes carrying public vehicular rights. These can have an unwelcome visual impact in a rural area and this needs to be taken into account when considering the use of a TRO.
Larger four wheel drive vehicles can be physically restricted by use of a Kent Carriage Gap or similar width restriction. It is not always possible to provide an effective barrier against smaller motorised vehicles and motorbikes, owing to the need to maintain unrestricted access for disabled path users, horses and horse-drawn vehicles and pedal cycles. However, some structures have proved to be effective deterrents including motorbike inhibitors, gates, horse stiles and sometimes a combination. The cost of access barriers is another aspect that needs be taken into account when considering the appropriateness of a particular TRO.
Should it be decided that a TRO is the best option in a particular case, the type of TRO that is considered to be suitable will be determined by a number of factors, including;
When considering a TRO, the Council will first consult with user groups, the parish and district council, local Councillors, the police and local path users.
Following this consultation, if the TRO is still considered to be a suitable option in light of the consultation feedback, a report is considered by the Executive Member for Culture and Recreation. Should the proposal be approved, the TRO will then be formally advertised to seek feedback from a wider audience.
Following this formal consultation the original proposal may be amended (if appropriate), before a final report is considered by the Executive Member seeking permission to make the proposed TRO. Once this approval has been given the TRO would then be made.
This process can take in excess of 6 months, depending on how contentious a particular proposal proves to be.
Where concerns exist regarding the condition or use of a particular route, Parish Councils can request a review of the route by Hampshire County Council, using the appropriate form. To enable the request to be fully considered it is important that as much information as possible is provided.
1. The legislation which gives highway authorities the powers to impose Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) is the Road Traffic Regulation Act of 1984. Section 1 of the Act sets out the powers and describes the circumstances or criteria which have to met for this power to be exercised.
2. Hampshire County Council’s approach to the use of these powers is to consider every individual case on its merits. It will consider whether a TRO is appropriate for a specific path rather than consider the implementation of TROs for an area. The policy and individual decisions taken should, wherever possible, be in accordance with the guidance set out in the revised version of ‘Making the Best of Byways’ and recent Government Guidance document entitled ‘Regulating the Use of Motor Vehicles on Public Rights of Way and Off-Road”
3. If a previously unrecorded route is added to the Definitive Map as a route with public vehicular rights, or if the recorded status of a route is changed to show the existence of public vehicular rights, then the County Council will only consider the restriction of vehicles if there are specific local circumstances which warrant such action. However, where there is no evidence of significant use of the route by motor vehicles in the previous twenty years then the presumption will be that this traffic should be prohibited.
4. Road Traffic Regulation Act Criteria: The criteria will be considered in relation to the circumstances which exist in each specific case.
5. Every Traffic Regulation Order will be reviewed by HCC officers at least once every three years to see if the circumstances which led to the imposition of the Order still apply. The conclusions of the review should be made publicly available.
6. The response to a problem or a potential problem should always be the least restrictive necessary. The Council will consider a series of other options before considering the implementation of a TRO. If a TRO is to be considered it should be the least restrictive necessary.
If a problem exists which is due to the use, or likely future use, of a route by certain types of traffic then the following must be considered
If the problem is deemed to be more severe, and the above measures have not worked or would not work, the following options will be considered:
If a proposal for a TRO is to be considered, the details of what is most appropriate may change before the TRO is actually made. Interested parties including the owners or managers of the land, local councils and user groups should be informed of such changes and have the opportunity to comment. A summary of the responses and proposed action should be made available to all consultees. The same contacts will also be notified when a proposed TRO is to be considered by the Executive Member.
This flow chart is a simplified representation of the process
Whatever the outcome feedback will be provided to those consulted.
7. Provision of Information. An annual report will be produced and made publicly available which lists:
This information will also be constantly available on the County Council Countryside Service web pages.
8. Signage and Barriers
Unless enforcement or non-compliance difficulties arise signs and barriers will be limited to those which are necessary to achieve the intended effect of the Order. A minimum in every case will be a permanent sign which explains clearly in words, with easily understood graphics, the traffic which is prohibited from using the route and at what times. If barriers are necessary every reasonable attempt will be made to physically allow access to the traffic which is not prohibited by the Order. This will include the use of the ‘Kent Carriage Gap’ where the intention is to prohibit access by 4 wheeled vehicles but allow horse drawn carriages to continue to use the route. The Kent Carriage Gap is a series of low bollards which are placed suffuciently close together to allow most carriages through but too close to allow access for most motor vehicles.
9. County Council officers will help encourage Hampshire Police to monitor adherence to all Traffic Regulation Orders across the county and to take appropriate enforcement action. In particular HCC officers will encourage local Police to take action against offenders where clear problems exist.
Approved by the Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage on 18 May 2006
The Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO) list does not cover Temporary Closures, which are made under Section 14 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.
Details of all orders currently being advertised will appear on our public notices pages.