We farm in the uplands and have common sheep rights. A farmer from a neighbouring valley has rented a farm in our valley  for the past 30 +  years. This farm is without any registered rights. He now claims to have recently got rights registered. Could this be possible? If so, all the moorland agreements will have to be re-structured. We understood that no new rights could be registered if not done in 1965.



This is a general response for guidance and should not be relied on as professional advice in taking decisions

The first point of call in these cases is to ask the farmer to provide evidence of his common rights from the Commons Register, if the rights are registered he should be able to provide you with the entry number from the relevant register and preferably a photo copy. You can then check this yourself.

If common rights never were registered it has only been possible to add rights in those counties which are part of the pilot roll out of Part 1 of the Commons Act 2006 and only if prescriptive rights have been acquired through more than 30 years usage. The pilot counties are Devon, Kent (but not including unitary authorities in these first two counties), Cornwall, Hertfordshire, Herefordshire, Lancashire (but not Blackpool), and Blackburn with Darwen.

Furthermore some counties have decided not to accept requests to register prescriptive rights - it is a grey area of the law.

It is always possible he has bought rights in gross and is using those. In that case he would also have to provide proof from the register. If the farmer does have registered rights then if he starts grazing a hefted flock, it would probably be wise to discuss his management to ensure you are compliant with any management agreement you have signed up to.