The requirement to produce the Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP) arises from the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.
The network of public paths in Ceredigion – which total some 2500km in length – provides one of the main means by which people can access and enjoy the countryside. Rights of way are an essential part of the rural tourism product in Ceredigion and they also have a key role to play in health and well-being. At the same time the rights of way network is part of the local travel infrastructure, providing paths from people's homes to local facilities and places of work.
Rights of Way Improvement Plans are the prime means by which local authorities will identify, prioritise and plan for improvements to their local rights of way network – and in doing so make better provision for walkers, cyclists, equestrians and people with mobility problems. The Plan also takes account of the significant amount of new access land that has become available in Wales under the CROW Act.
Ceredigion County Council’s Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP) was produced in accordance with the requirements of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW Act). For the first time, Local authorities had a legal requirement to plan strategically for the development, better management and promotion of their existing local rights of way and changes or additions to the rights of way network.
The 2008 ROWIP recognised the need for a mid-term review to allow for the action plan ‘roll-forward’ for the latter part of the 10 year plan period. By 2012 some of the actions contained in the ROWIP were already out of date, partly because some targets have been met and partly because others now appear unrealistic.
The following factors and requirements have influenced the way in which the review has been carried out:
- Simplification of the plan
- A more focused action plan combined with a reduction in the number of ‘themes’.
- Prioritisation of actions.
- Providing an opportunity for community involvement in rights of way.
- Planning for the longer-term.
An authority by whom a rights of way improvement plan is published shall, not more than ten years after first publishing it and subsequently at intervals of not more than ten years make a new assessment of the matters specified in subsection and review the plan and decide whether to amend it. The plan in draft form is currently out for public consultation (closing date 1st November 2018); please visit the Authorities Consultation webpage on details of how to comment on the revised plan.