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Authority’s application to itself

May 2009

Two counties have been known to make BOAT applications to themselves, and then assert exemption because the applications were in time. This method is unlawful – confirmed by both Defra and Counsel in 2007. West Sussex accepted this and reversed a BOAT determination. The other – Nottinghamshire County Council – proceeded with a BOAT order. This was provisionally modified by an inspector in Oct 2007 to Restricted Byway on the basis of the new Defra advice. In Feb 2008, Defra advised that, in spite of unlawful procedure, the applications had to be regarded as valid, thus denying exemption and reverting to BOAT. GLPG challenged this and Defra helpfully reversed its advice (2 June 2008). In the event, the inspector finally decided on bridleway status on the basis of historic evidence, without again addressing the issue of applications. Other decisions have however followed the first one in rejecting self-applications, particularly FPS/L3055/7/39 (Feb 09) which addressed only this issue together with the duty of an inspector to decide on exemption (see Inspector powers). Curiously, Notts CC has decided at officer level to maintain its view on both issues in respect of orders that are being modified to RB status, but will abandon the argument in respect of applications still to be determined. If this situation is encountered elsewhere, refer to GLEAM for advice.