Commons Act 2006

The Commons Act 2006 will protect our common land for current and future generations, and deliver real benefits in terms of sustainable farming, public access and biodiversity. The Commons Bill received Royal Assent on 19 July 2006. To download the Commons Act click here

What does the Act do?

The Commons Act:

  • The Act enables commons to be managed more sustainably by commoners and landowners working together through commons councils, with powers to regulate grazing and other agricultural activities. Defra is now looking to bring this part of the Act into force in Spring 2009.
  • It will provide for better protection for common land and greens by streamlining the consents system for works and fencing on commons and ensures that existing statutory protections are applied consistently. This includes reinforcing existing protections against abuse, encroachment and unauthorised development. It recognises that the protection of common land has to be proportionate to the harm caused and provides that some specified works can be carried out without the need for consent.
  • Part 1 of the Act requires commons registration authorities to bring their registers up-to-date by recording past changes affecting the registers during a ‘transitional period’. Once the transitional period is underway, they will also have to keep the registers up-to-date by recording new changes affecting the registers. Commons registration authorities will have new powers to correct many of the mistakes in the registers. In England, implementation of the registration provisions in the Act began with a pilot scheme in October 2008. A decision on how and when to roll those provisions out to the rest of England will be made after the completion of the transitional application period in the pilot areas in September 2010.
  • The Act sets out new, clearer criteria for the registration of town or village greens, giving local communities new opportunities to register valued recreational sites to secure permanent protection.
  • The Act prohibits the severance of common rights, preventing commoners from selling, leasing or letting their rights away from the property to which rights are attached. The Act prohibits the severance of rights with effect from 28 June 2005. This will help deliver local control of grazing on the commons.