LARA website changes

Please be aware that we are moving the LARA website to a new web server, starting on the morning of Wednesday 13th November. The website will be continue to be available at, but not at, whilst the move is underway. The linked Reference Documents will be unavailable (at both web addresses) for a short period thereafter. Emails sent to any email address whilst the changes are underway may not be received. We currently hope to have everything fully functional within 24 hours, although we will be making minor changes to the style and format of the site over the following days.

Motor Sport Events in the Countryside

We have just published a revised version of the LARA report on Motor Sport Events in the Countryside, subtitled Good Practice Guidance for Event Organisers & Land Managers. This supercedes the previous version, published in January 2016. This new version now covers only the laws and regulations dealing with the temporary use of land for motor sport events under what is known as the ‘14/28 Day Rule’. Sections of the first version dealing with the regulation of motor events on public rights of way, and the provision of permanent motor sport venues requiring planning permission, are now covered by separate LARA papers. The new report is available from the LARA – Publications page of this website.

Motorsport Events on Public Rights of Way

We have just published a new LARA Paper, titled Motorsport Events on Public Rights of Way and sub-titled Good Practice in Statutory Authorisation. This sets out, in principle, the relationship between ‘route authorisation’ (under S.13 of the Road Traffic Act 1988) and authorisation for the use of rights of way (under S.33 of the same Act), together with basic guidance on appropriate conditions that might be imposed by a local authority when granted ‘S.33 authorisation’. We intend to publish a second paper, later this summer, providing more detailed guidance to organisers seeking S.33 authorisation for their event. The new Paper is available from the LARA – Papers and Reports page.

A Significant Anniversary …

… passed quietly a couple of months ago. It is now just over 50 years since The Motor Vehicles (Competition and Trials) Regulations 1969 came into operation and they continue to regulate motoring events on public highways five decades later.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s there was increasing concern about the noise and disturbance caused by car rallies, particularly those held during the night. The Road Traffic Act 1962 made provision for the “Regulation of motoring events on public highways” and this led to The Motor Vehicles (Competitions and Trials) Regulations 1965, the first time that motoring events on the highway had to be authorised. The 1965 regulations were considered over-draconian and immediate efforts were made to relax some of the controls, resulting in the Motor Vehicles (Competitions and Trials) Regulations 1969 which are still in force (with amendments) to this day.

When one considers how our roads have changed in the last 50 years it is a remarkable tribute to those who drafted the 1969 Regulations that they are still considered ‘fit for purpose’ in a totally different motoring environment. It is also a tribute to our friends and colleagues, first at the RAC, then at the MSA, and now at Motorsport UK, who have been responsible for the ongoing implementation of these regulations.

Planning Appeal Decisions

We’ve been having a bit of tidy-up at LARA’s virtual HQ and Alan has unearthed a treasure trove of planning appeal decision letters issued between 1988 and 2010. Most of the issues that regularly bear against permanent (and sometimes temporary) motor sport sites are in here: noise, dust, traffic, green belt, SSSIs, and visual intrusion. We’ve combined them into a new LARA Paper available here, with apologies for the (large) file size.

A study of these decisions should inform future applicants about the difficulties they may face. We can’t explain why we’ve nothing more recent than 2010 on file but LARA welcomes any additional decision letters to add to this set.

List of Streets now online

One of the long-standing frustrations when dealing with countryside access has been the lack of easily-available information on the minor road network, particularly unsealed minor roads, and this frustration has only grown as more-and-more information on both surfaced roads, and the rights of way network, has become available online. If you’re looking for a surfaced road, then ‘coloured’ roads on OS maps or any decent SatNav system will show you where to go. If you’re looking for a right of way (BOAT, Restricted Byway, Bridleway, or Footpath), then the OS maps or the Local Authority / Highway Authority online maps will guide you on your way (errors and omissions excepted).

But unsealed unclassified roads have, until now, always fallen into an information gap between surfaced roads on one hand and rights of way on the other. The knowledgeable have always been able to head-down to their local highway authority to study the List of Streets (assuming that it’s in a user-friendly format) but what happens when you’re looking for somewhere distant where you can legally drive? It’s true that the situation got a lot better when the Ordnance Survey added the ORPA classification to their maps but that was, in principle, a once-off exercise and the OS has no mechanism for adding ‘new’ ORPAs to their maps.

Now, at last, GeoPlace have made the National Street Gazetteer available, online, at:

This is a huge step forward but, before everyone gets too excited, it’s important to remember that the National Street Gazetteer is “a repository for combining the Local Street Gazetteers” and, as such, is only as good as the information supplied by the local Highway Authorities. A quick analysis, by LARA, has revealed a wide variation in both the quantity and quality of this information. At the better end, some HAs have included their rights of way data allowing a ‘one-stop-shop’ for all access information. At the worse end, some HAs appear to have ignored all of their unsealed roads.

The findmystreet website provides links to report ‘Missing Streets’ but LARA is asking all its member organisations, and their members, NOT to report missing streets on an ad-hoc basis as we are concerned that a tsunami of single street-by-street reports will overload the Highway Authorities. LARA will be co-ordinating consolidated lists of missing streets for the most important (to us) Highway Authorities and submitting these at the appropriate time. We’ll keep you posted.

Reference Documents

Have you had a look at the Reference Documents pages of this website recently? We’ve been adding some historical documents over the last few weeks, and will be adding more over the next few weeks, so click the link above and take a trip down memory lane.

Surface Standards for Unsealed Public Roads

We are pleased to announce the publication of a major new LARA report on the Surface Standards for Unsealed Public Roads. This LARA report, and the associated LARA paper giving the View of the Courts, set out the legal framework for deciding on the most appropriate surface for unsealed BOATs and unclassified roads, and the legal requirements for maintenance and repair. The report is available on the LARA – Publications page of this website.

The Reference Documents section of the report includes a short list of publications setting-out how to achieve and maintain that ‘appropriate surface’. These reference documents include two excellent publications from the USA where ‘dirt and gravel’ roads are considered quite normal for minor roads in rural areas.

This is the third of the four LARA reports intended to ‘shadow’ the four principal topic areas of the MSWG.

2026, or 2031, or …?

We have been waiting a long time for the implementation of the rights of way provisions in the Deregulation Act 2015, which will finally give effect to the remaining provisions in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. The uncertainty caused by Brexit has led to the specialist DEFRA officers being reassigned, and the work of the Stakeholder Working Group being put on ice.

This hiatus has caused a lot of worry to organisations directly affected by the 2026 ‘cut off’ for making changes to the definitive map of rights of way, and pressure is mounting on the government to delay the cut-off back to 2031, as CRoWA 2000 already allows.

On 15th March LARA submitted a question about the need for this delay to the current Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee inquiry; LARA also co-signed a letter, dated 22nd March, from The Ramblers to Michael Gove, the Secretary of State. By coincidence, or not(?), this proposed delay is to be debated in the House of Lords on the afternoon of Tuesday 2nd April 2019, lead by Lord Greaves, a Lib-Dem peer with particular interests in outdoor recreation. 

Is there a head of steam building here?