Lane clearing at South Emlett near Kennerleigh

Devon Green Lanes Group’s remit is:

"To Preserve and Record the Green Lanes and Public Rights of Way of the County." It is open to all user groups and interested persons.

The aims of the Group are:

1. To protect and record Devon's Green Lanes.

2. To monitor and comment on the Definitive Map Review including researching routes.

3. To comment on proposed diversions if they affect the integrity of the Definitive Map.

4. To support other PRoW User Groups e.g. the Ramblers, BHS, TRF, and GLASS if possible and necessary.

5. To welcome those interested in using or being involved with the Green Lanes.

Devon Green Lanes Group (DGLG) was set up some years ago and currently has representatives from different User Groups e.g. Ramblers Association, British Horse Society, Green Lane Association, and the Trail Riders Fellowship.

The main interest of the Group is to preserve and protect the Green Lanes in Devon, to record them and to also monitor and contribute to Devon County Council’s Definitive Map Review process.

Members from the User Groups represented on DGLG work together on “lane clearing days” and assist with other Public Rights of Way (PRoW) maintenance. In addition to clearing and maintenance work, DGLG also encourages PRoW users to report obstructions etc. to the appropriate Devon County Council Area Highway Management Office.

As part of its research role, the DGLG is involved in identifying lost public ways and is keen to improve Devon’s PRoW network such that it is inclusive and accessible to all categories of user.

What are DGLG’s constraints in fulfilling its objectives?

Lack of resources mainly in terms of people and time. Collecting evidence “manually” from sources such as the Devon Records Office, PRoW office at County Hall, the Public Records Office at Kew, Parish records where these are still held by Parish Clerks, etc, is very time consuming and an inefficient use of voluntary researchers’ time. DGLG campaigns for the digitisation of these records and making them available (free of charge) over the Internet. This must be a priority if all “lost ways” are to be properly researched and recorded on the Definitive Map before the cut-off date imposed by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 of 1 January 2026.

It is difficult for some DGLG members to represent their views at County level when DCC holds User Group meetings etc during working hours. This means that, in effect, those members in work are unable to express their views in a debating situation where other interested parties, such as the NFU and landowners, are represented.

What are DGLG’s top priorities for improving access to the Devon countryside for those who use it for travel and recreation?

(a) Improving signage for PRoWs and, particularly unsurfaced Unclassified County Roads (UCRs), is a top priority to let the public know exactly what ways are available and to which category of user(s). Missing or incorrect signage is the biggest single cause of conflict between landowners and PRoW users.

(b) Recording all public “Lost Ways” on Devon’s Definitive Map as soon as possible.

(c) Adding new linking routes to the Definitive Map to provide more circular routes, perhaps using Creation Orders where appropriate.

(d) Devon’s unsurfaced UCRs represents a substantial “hidden” resource that is available to all categories of user. However, there is no equivalent of the Definitive Map that can provide members of the public with their locations. Users cannot be confident that those UCRs shown on OS maps as ORPAs are 100% available without a trip to County Hall to check the Land Charges maps. It is quite common that the maps held in Area Highway Management Offices have been amended over the years to suit local circumstances with no “legal event” having taken place to remove user rights.

(e) Educating the general public about PRoW issues, through leaflets, radio and TV campaigns, and assisting user groups with their own production of educative materials.

(f) Thorough investigation of any allegations of illegal use so that other users are not wrongly tarred with the same brush!

(g) Proper consultation on PRoW issues by Devon County Council with all user groups, including minuting the PRoW Joint User Group so that members can check that all issues raised and discussed have been properly understood, recorded and followed up where appropriate.

(h) Encouraging Devon County Council to make better use of its PRoW web pages to inform and communicate information to the public e.g. having a new web page recording all Definitive Map Modification Order (DMMOs) with a link to the appropriate PRoW Committee minute(s),  recording the progress of the Definitive Map review against every Parish including keeping the pages up-to-date with maps etc as they become live, and publishing all the Statements to accompany the online Definitive Map. Also, because RoW information does not go "out of date" as such, minutes and reports of the PRoW Committee should not be archived and all available papers published going back as far as possible.

What vision does DGLG have for improved access to the countryside in Devon over the next ten years?

(a) That all PRoWs (including UCRs) are properly signed, open, clear, and linked.

(b) That every PRoW has an up to date Definitive Statement (available via the Internet), describing its physical nature, as a protection against incursion, etc. improving the accuracy of the Definitive Map.

(c) Clear advice provided on available PRoW (including UCRs) through better use of the Internet and liaison with OS mapping such that the public can have confidence in using PRoW shown as such on OS maps.

(d) PRoWs kept clear of obstructions and accessible. Barbed wire, abandoned farm machinery, fly tipping and dumped cars are particular problems.

(e) “Furniture” on PRoWs maintained to a good standard and remove that which is not appropriate to the category of user e.g. stiles on Bridlepaths.

Contacts for Devon Green Lanes Group:

Head Office:
Crosby House
Lyddons Mead
TA20 1HD
Tel: 01460 63586
Membership costs £5 pa to cover printing and posting of agendas and minutes and other minor administrative costs - to join please send cheque made payable to Devon Green Lanes Group to Head Office with your contact details.
Donations to assist the Group in its research work are always gratefully received as this is all voluntary!
Meetings are usually monthly and are held at the Thistle Hotel, Queens Street, Exeter on the 1st Thursday of each month commencing at 6.30pm.