Rights of Way Improvement Plans and Funding

What are Rights of Way Improvement Plans?

The Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act 2000 places a duty on each Highway Authority in England and Wales to publish a Rights of Way Improvement Plan (RoWIP).

These are 10-year prioritised plans for the improvement of the local rights of way network and are intended to benefit the public.  Securing an improved network, for walking, cycling, horse riding and off-road users.  People with sight and mobility problems are specifically mentioned by the CRoW Act and the additional requirements of the Equality Act 2010 also apply. 

The plans set out the principle means by which local highway authorities are to identify, prioritise and plan for improvements to their local rights of way network.

ROWIP Review

Local authorities must review their Rights of Way Improvement Plan within 10 years of producing their last plan.  Since the first plans were produced in 2007/8 this means that the second round of ROWIPs should have been reviewed. 

Welsh Government issued statutory guidance setting out how this should be done. 


and the key steps involved.

Authorities must:

  • - Plan for the Review: issue and outline and timetable and initial consultation
  • - Carry out new assessments
  • - Review the previous ROWIP and decide if they need to amend it
  • - Publish a Draft ROWIP. This is subject to a minimum 12-week public consultation
  • - Revise the Draft ROWIP
  • - Publish their Final ROWIP

The published RoWIPs should have distinct sections setting out the strategic context and assessment of an authority’s local rights of way. These sections will lead into a Statement of Action for the management and improvement of local rights of way over the life of the Plan.  The Statement of Action should include key aims and priorities, long term strategic commitments and details of what will be deferred to Delivery Plans. 

For the new ROWIPs Welsh Government introduced a Delivery Plan.  These are 1-3 year work plans which were introduced to enable authorities to be more flexible to funding opportunities and changing legislation. 

Have your say on Rights of way

There are opportunities as part of the ROWIP review for the public and interested stakeholders to help the authority develop their plan by providing information about their needs and priorities. 

Local Access Forums have a key role to support the development of the ROWIP.  Find out more about LAFs here


NRW is a statutory consultee for all ROWIPs and is looking at how NRW managed land can help meet public needs

RoWIP Funding Programme

The 10 year ROWIP Funding Programme came to and end in 2018. The Welsh Government provided a major boost to the implementation of the first Plans by means of the RoWIP Funding Programme.  This was administered and managed by Natural Resources Wales. In total, the Welsh Government allocated just under £12.86 million over the life of the programme.  Read information about the work delivered which supported the implementation of the first plans. 

RoWIP Related research

No recent research has been commissioned in relation to Rights of Way Improvement Plans. 

Two pieces of research based on the first ROWIPs in Wales were commissioned:

Full Report of Wales ROWIP Review Download Full Report of Wales ROWIP Review.PDF (1 MB)

In 2013/14, Natural Resources Wales was tasked with commissioning a review of RoWIPs. This formed the basis of Natural Resources Wales's advice to the Welsh Government. These research reports are also available below.

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