What is User Evidence? Why is it important?
User Evidence is a record that a route has had use, or attempted use. Before the NERC Act in 2006 it was very important that every time a route was used, that a User Evidence Form (UEF) was submitted for that route by the individual that used it, including a record of use by others that he/she witnessed - travelling companions or those met on the road. It was also important that a UEF was filled in every time that an unsuccessful attempt was made to use a route but proved impossible due to obstruction or other problems.
In practice, only a small proportion of those who drove green roads before 2006 found the time to record their usage in a UEF form or in Trailwise.
The NERC Act changed the legal situation overnight and meant that ‘new’ user evidence after 2006 can’t normally be used to justify classification as a Byway Open to All Traffic (BOAT), though it may still be useful in claiming a restricted byway.
‘Old’ User Evidence (pre NERC) is still very important for protecting the existing network of vehicular routes. The NERC Act extinguished many public rights, but there were exceptions to this and occasionally routes can be saved if ‘old’ user evidence meets certain levels. Hence we have retained the user evidence recorded in previous versions of Trailwise (and its predecessor Wayfinder).
If you know of any ‘old timer’ motorists who drove green lanes before 2006 please ask them to record their evidence (e.g. use the comments section in TW2 if the route still exists) and make their local GLASS rep aware of the information. It may help to justify a BOAT or to prevent a UCR/ORPA from being downgraded to footpath or bridleway.
If you have entered user evidence on previous versions of Trailwise it will have been kept for possible use by GLASS in Definitive Map Modification Orders (DMMOs) or in public inquiries (see Privacy and TW2 Data FAQ below).
Another criterion on which a route can have its public rights removed or reduced is that of being 'unnecessary for public use'. It is very difficult for a case to be made that a route is unnecessary if there are many records of the route having been used! It is therefore most important that we all continue to record our use of every route we use, because there is no means of predicting which routes are likely to be under threat in the future. That’s why TW2 has a “Comments” facility on each Detail page which can be used to record your usage of the featured route or your experiences regarding a route’s characteristics, ease of use, etc.
It is just possible that sections of the NERC Act may be amended or repealed at some time in the future, and ‘new’ user evidence may again become valuable for justifying public vehicular rights.
I have used a route, what should I do now?
It is most important when you have been out into the countryside and used any route, to add a record of your usage of that route into TW2 Comments section for the route in question. If the route is not already recorded within TW2 you will need to contact the TW2 Administrator or your local GLASS rep to see if it can be added.
When recording a comment, say what date you used the route, your vehicle type, and add any information that may be useful to people in future if/when they look up the lane on TW2 for route planning.
You can and should include details of your direction of travel, the number of people travelling with you (perhaps in the same vehicle) and also other users you might meet, with their mode of transport too.
You might also mention: -
Signs : Are there any signs at the start and end extreme of each route or anywhere else along the route?
Obstructions and Problems : These should be recorded with a Grid Reference and an indication of which users could be affected - walkers, wide vehicles etc.
Street furniture : Any furniture that exists along the route such as OS Benchmarks, mileposts, gates, cattle grids etc.
TRO : Any Traffic Regulation Order signage should be recorded along with details of the classes of user that it affects and when it is in force if it is seasonal.
In addition to the detail information above, you can include photographs and/or general comments about the route as a whole. Many TrailWise users find it very useful to see the comments of previous users of a route.
Note that comments and pictures will be subject to “moderation” by GLASS officials. Any photos or comments that are considered inappropriate may be removed, and the Administrator’s decision will be final. Persistent offenders may have their TW2 access removed.
Privacy and TW2 Data
Other registered TW2 users will be able to see your comments, but they cannot see your address or contact details.
Neither GLASS Ltd (as the registered Data Controller) nor the TW2 team will make any contact details available to anyone else unless there is a clear and demonstrable need in the interest of protecting the existing lane network or bringing about its proper recording.
The only times that TW2 will make your address details available is to a known person acting in a Magistrates Court, Highway Authority assessment, Public Inquiry or similar tribunal that is considering a change to the recorded rights of way network, or considering a proposal that will regulate the public use of a lane. In most cases, the 'known person' will be a bona fide user association officer or a public authority official.
Instances of where TW2 may divulge your contact details to bona fide officers or officials include, but are not limited to: Stopping up orders, diversion orders, DMMO (Modification orders), TRO (Traffic Regulation Order).
Please BE AWARE that if your user evidence or comments are used in this way, the information may pass into the public domain, in the same way as if you had given evidence yourself directly to the authority concerned. If this is not acceptable to you, simply do not complete user forms or TW2 comments.
It is possible that the officers or authority concerned may contact you directly to confirm details or seek further information. You are not obliged to respond in any way.
If your membership of TW2, TrailWise, or its predecessor Wayfinder has lapsed, this information will continue to be retained and may be used under the same circumstances.
TW2 has 'inherited' User Evidence and comments from the predecessor systems and will continue to act as custodian of this information under similar terms.