What is a Common Land?

What is a Common Land?

Common land is land held by one person or a group of people over which other people have certain common rights, such as allowing their cattle to graze on it, collecting wood, or cutting grass for fuel.

A commoner is a person who holds a right in or over common land jointly with another or others.

In the United Kingdom, common land or former common land is referred to as a common; for example, Clapham Common and Mungrisdale Common.

The scope of common land has been greatly decreased due to enclosure from the millions of acres that existed until the 17th century, but a significant quantity of common land still survives, particularly in upland areas.

In England alone, there are approximately 8,000 registered commons.

Who owns it?

Common land is land subject to rights held by one or more people to take or use part of a piece of land or the produce of a piece of land owned by someone else, these are known as ‘rights of common’.

Commoners were those who had the right to exercise these rights.

It is a prevalent misperception that common land is land owned by the entire public and to which everyone has unlimited access. All common land is private property, regardless of whether the owner is an individual or a company.

Historically, the owner of the common was usually the lord of the manor. Many commons are now controlled by local governments, the National Trust, and other organizations for the benefit of the public, although not all commons are open to all.

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act of 2000 (often known as the ‘CRoW’) creates a new right of public access to open country and registered common land, subject to certain set constraints.

Common land Act

Enclosures had wiped out many common rights by the mid-nineteenth century, but some remained. The 1965 Commons Registration Act intended to document all common lands, owners, and rights.

Unfortunately, many people did not register at the time, and as a result, disputes arose. Because of loopholes in the Act, some commons have been de-registered.

The Commons Act of 2006 made some changes to commons registration and management.

Common land is subject to ‘rights of common,’ such as the right to graze certain stock or collect wood or turf. Individuals (the “commoners”) have these rights, not everyone.

These people are frequently defined as residing in specific properties or areas, such as a village or parish. Often, the rights have died out, and a common no longer has commoners; or, if commoners exist, they no longer exercise their rights.

This does not preclude the land from remaining common.

All commons have been registered. The register of commons can be viewed at the office of the local county council, London borough, metropolitan district, or other unitary authority. Commons may also be registered by national park authorities.

There are many areas called commons that do not have common status – the name is not a reliable way to identify a common.

The erection of any building or fence, or the construction of any work, which prevents or impedes access to land which was subject to common rights on 1 January 1926 is unlawful under section 194 of the Law of Property Act 1925 unless the operation has the consent of the Secretary of State for Environment in England or the Welsh Government (section 38 of the Commons Act 2006) in addition to any planning or other consent that is required. There are a few exceptions to this rule.

Common historical rights

There were five types of historical common rights, however, there were others:

Of pasture: the privilege to graze livestock; the animals allowed, whether sheep, horses, cattle, or others, were defined in each case.

Of Estovers: have the right to cut and take wood (but not timber), reeds, heather, bracken, and the like.

Turbary: the right to dig turf or peat for fuel.

in the soil: the right to remove sand, gravel, stone, coal, and other materials

piscary: the right to capture fish from ponds, streams, and so on.

These were rights to natural products, not crops or commercial use of the land.

They were nearly always subject to quantity constraints (generally enough for the commoner’s home requirements) and were sometimes subject to seasonal restrictions (such as during game-breeding periods).

In recent times, rights have been described in less concrete terms, such as access to light, air, recreation, and so on.

Types of common.

Pasture commons.

Pasture commons are those in which the principal right is to graze cattle.

They are mostly moorland in the uplands, salt marsh, sand dunes, or cliffs on the coast, and downland, grassland, heathland, or timber pasture in the interior lowlands, depending on the soil and history.

Because of the extended continuity of management, which can last hundreds of years in certain circumstances, these ecosystems are frequently of very high nature conservation significance.

Historically, most pasture commons were grazed by a mix of cattle, sheep, and ponies (often also geese). The present survival of grazing on pasture commons has been patchy during the last century.

Commons of arable and haymeadow

The remaining commons are nearly all grassland, but arable farming and haymaking were important in the past, with pieces of land in the common arable fields and common hay meadows assigned annually by lot.

Such commons were grazed when not in use for those reasons. Common arable fields around the village of Laxton in Nottinghamshire, and a common meadow at North Meadow, Cricklade, are two examples.

Lammas rights

Lammas rights granted commoners access to pasture after the harvest from Lammas day, 12 August (N.S.), until 6 April, even if they had no other rights to the property. Such rights could occasionally hinder enclosure and building construction on agricultural land.

Today’s use

A large portion of common land is still utilized for its original purpose. The right to graze domestic animals is by far the most widespread commoners right recognized, and its continued use benefits agricultural and rural economies greatly.

Sheep grazing rights are registered on 53% of Welsh commons and 16% of English commons. Cattle are registered on 35% of Welsh and 20% of English commons, while horses and ponies are registered on 27% of Welsh and 13% of English commons.

In certain circumstances, grazing rights for goats, geese, and ducks are recorded, whilst in others, the type of animals is not stated.

These data refer to the number of common land units, and the apparent contrast between Wales and England may be exaggerated due to errors in the registries and a significant number of tiny commons with no rights in England.

Despite their many legal and historical roots, commons are now maintained by a community of users, which includes those who own rights as well as the owner(s) of the soil.

Such communities, in general, necessitate collaborative efforts to incorporate all interests, with formal or informal restrictions and collaborative understandings, which are frequently accompanied by strong social traditions and local identity.

Common land is a valuable asset for wildlife conservation. Almost all commons in England and Wales maintain semi-natural vegetation.

Much of this has great conservation value, as evidenced by the proportion of commons classified as Sites of Special Scientific Interest and under EU Directives.

As of 2006, over 55% of common land in England was designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), with just 63 percent of this area in favorable or recovering condition significantly lower than the 73 percent average for all SSSI land in England.

The law that governs England and Wales

The legal position regarding common land has been ambiguous, but recent legislation has attempted to correct this and remove legal issues so that commons can be better used and preserved.

The majority of commons are founded on ancient rights under British common law that predate acts issued by the English Parliament.

The precise usufruct rights that apply to specific commons were documented in some circumstances, but were more commonly based on long-held traditions.

A major reform began in 1965, with the creation of a national registry of common property, which tracked land ownership and the rights of any commoners, and two more significant acts have since been enacted.

Landowners in general have all of the rights of exclusive possession, including the ability to utilize the land as they see fit. The owner’s rights over common land, on the other hand, are limited, and other persons known as commoners have some rights over the area.

Other rights to the land may be retained by the landowner, such as rights to minerals and huge wood, as well as any common rights not exercised by the commoners.

The commoners will continue to exercise their rights, or they will have a document describing their rights, which may be included in the deeds of another property.

There are still some commoners who exercise their privileges; for example, there are 500 commoners in the New Forest, and there is a commoners’ federation in Cumbria.

In many cases, there are no existing commoners since the rights have been disregarded.

United States

Common land, a British invention, was used in many former British colonies, including Ireland and the United States. In building their own commons, the North American colonies accepted English regulations.

Some of the most well-known examples are the Boston Common in Massachusetts and the New Haven Green in New Haven, Connecticut, both of which are among the oldest commons in the United States.


Can I use common land?

Common land is owned by a local council, a private individual, or the National Trust. You normally have the freedom to move about on it. This implies it can be used for activities such as walking and climbing.

What is common Land?

Common land is land which is owned by a public body but is not private property. The nature of common land in England and Wales is modelled on the medieval system of open field agriculture.

It was originally used for grazing animals and growing crops, but more recently many places have become recreational areas.

Moreover, the bigger common grounds are used for sports such as soccer, hockey, cricket and so on.

What is the difference between common land and private land?

Private land is owned by a person, while common land belongs to the public. A prime example of private land is an individual’s own property. As an owner of private land, an individual has full powers over their property and all the power that comes with ownership.

However, if they were to be a commoner on the same private property, then they would have less powers and would not have the right to do all that they wish. This is due to the fact when one crosses common land boundaries, there are laws that protect them.

Can I have a right of access to common land?

Yes, you can have a right of access to walkers and horse riders, which means that you have the legal freedom to move about on this land.

Is there any difference between common land and a public open space?

No, there is no difference between common land and public open spaces. They both refer to areas of land where the public can use for recreation and enjoyment.

Should I be getting my fence repaired?

Equally, you can use common land for environmental purposes, such as bird watching or learning about the local wildlife and plants.

Such rights are held by a number of people who have got the right to graze animals or gather wood on the piece of land.

Can I walk on my neighbor’s common land?

Yes, you can move freely with your dogs on common land, but you must be aware that some dogs may not be allowed here.

What is the law on common land?

Common land is land subject to rights held by one or more people to take or use a portion of a piece of land or the produce of a piece of land owned by someone, else these are known as ‘rights of common’. Commoners were those who have the right to exercise such rights.

Which land is known as common land?

An old term denoting property that has been set aside and governed by the municipal, state, or federal government for the benefit of the public for recreational activities. Public lands are common lands established by the federal government.

How much of the UK is common land?

Common Land now accounts for 3% of England, but it includes large swaths of some of our most beloved and ecologically rich landscapes, such as Dartmoor, the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, and the Shropshire Hills.

Can I cut down a tree on common land?

Under Common Law, you have a legal right to deal with the nuisance caused by trees overhanging your property.

Only the pieces of the tree that cross your property’s boundaries should be removed. Any part of a tree that does not overhang the property has no legal right to be cut or removed.

Are you allowed to camp on common land?

When land is designated as common land, as it is in much of the New Forest, it does not imply that there is a right to camp on it, especially as this may interfere with commoners’ rights to graze livestock.

If you inquire, some farmers and landowners may allow camping, but if in doubt, go for an official campsite.

Can you claim adverse possession of common land?

An owner of common land or TVG who is not registered with the Land Registry can oppose a claim of adverse possession unless the squatter can show that they had an intention to possess the land for at least 12 years. possessed the land without the agreement of the recorded owner

Which is the example of common land?

Pasture is one example of a common right. The right to pasture cattle, horses, sheep, or other animals on common land.

What is common land in Wales?

The term “common land” refers to land owned by one party over which another party has certain rights, such as the right to graze cattle.

Common land is not owned by the public, although it may have a right of public access or be allowed to be used by the public.

Why is it called a common?

The term “commons” stems from the traditional English legal phrase for common land, which is also known as “commons,” and was popularized in the modern sense as a shared resource term by the environmentalist Garrett Hardin in a famous 1968 article titled The Tragedy of the Commons.

Is Epping Forest common land?

Epping Forest is around 5,900 acres in size, 19 kilometers long north to south, and just four kilometers broad east to west.

Every stride you take or bike stroke you make in Epping Forest and other public lands is the result of people organizing against landowners and developers.

Which trees Cannot be cut without the approval of the government?

Sheesham, Pine, Sandalwood, and Teak are just a handful of the plant species that cannot be chopped down without the government’s permission. The Government of India introduced the National Forest Policy in 1988.

Is it illegal to wild camp in England?

Technically, wild camping is prohibited in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and while we would never encourage law-breaking among our legions of followers, we have the information on loopholes and sites where you can pitch up without incident.

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