The Highways Act 1980 Section 31(6) provides a mechanism for landowners to guard against public rights of way coming into existence over their land following a period of use by the public. In certain circumstances dedication of a public right of way may be presumed or inferred following use by the public (for 20 years by statutory provision or other periods under Common Law) but by making a declaration that the landowner does not intend to dedicate it no such presumption or inference can be made. This means that the landowner does not need to keep people from using the paths, thus avoiding the need for expensive fencing or other measures and benefitting the public by allowing them to continue using the ways in the meantime.
However, it should be noted that this does not remove any public rights that already exist even if they are not recorded. This declaration should be reaffirmed every few years; from October 2013 this interval is 20 years.
A similar provision exists from October 2013 to ensure that no town or village green can come about in a similar way (the Commons Act 2006 Section 15B). A single declaration can cover both potential public rights of way and potential town/village greens.
To make a statement and subsequent declaration under Section 31(6) of the Highways Act, 1980 and/or a landowner statement under section 15A of the Commons Act 2006 you will need to deposit a map and statement with the county council. There are fees for processing deposits.