In Cambridgeshire, UK. I've recently had a few notices go up around my village, near farms with public footpaths, and small green spaces that local villagers roam across regularly, stating:
An application to deposit a map and statement under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 and Section 15A(1) of the Commons Act 2006 has been made in relation to the land (or lands) described below and shown blue on the accompanying map.
PLEASE NOTE: This deposit may affect rights over the land described below. Deposits made under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 may prevent deemed dedication of public rights of way over such land under section 31(1) of that Act. Please see guidance at http://www.defra.gov.uk/rural/protected/greens/ for further information.)[sic]
It goes on to mention the location, dates, and people who applied. With an attached map that outlines the areas affected. And also says the register can be accessed at the local office (at times nobody with a full-time job could reasonably get there, go figure) or online at the following site: Landowner deposits.
What do these deposits mean? I've looked at the links and cited acts, but it's really not clear to me. The various areas being deposited include public footpaths and greens that are generally treated like 'common land' (but I guess actually aren't).
Are they simply asserting their right over the land in case they want to use it in the future? Will these deposits invalidate existing public footpaths, or rights of way, etc.? I'm slightly worried the greens that the whole village actively enjoy, and the public footpaths that I moved here for are going to have houses built on them or perhaps something else.