§ Mr. Iain Mills
asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the effect of implementing trunk road improvements in the United Kingdom since 1976 on statutory rights of way, bridleways, roads used as public paths or byways.
§ Mr. Peter Bottomley
The construction or improvement of trunk roads and motorways unavoidably involves interference with rights of way, including those covered by the question. The Secretary of State has power under sections 14 and 18 of the Highways Act 1980 to make orders authorising him to stop up, divert or alter highways or other such rights of way which cross or enter the routes of roads he proposes to construct or improve, or which will otherwise be affected by the works. There are procedural requirements for the publication of draft orders, the service of notices and the holding of inquiries into objections.
The Secretary of State may not make an order stopping up a highway unless he is satisfied that another reasonably convenient route is available or will be provided before the highway is stopped up. Detailed information about the extent to which these powers have been exercised over the last 10 years cannot be obtained except at disproportionate cost.