Natural England - Commons Councils

Commons Councils

Information about Commons Councils for land owners, commoners and land managers.

What are Commons Councils?

Commons councils are democratic structures which can be established at a local level through the Commons Act 2006, for the better management of commons.  The Standard Constitution Regulations relating to commons councils were formally approved in April 2010.

Are Commons Councils likely to be established for all commons?

No. In many cases existing systems and structures will be working well, and in others commons councils may not be appropriate.  Commons councils are likely to be most useful where they can help make a difference in improving current management.  This may be especially where commons are in agricultural use, but where it can be difficult to reach agreement on collective management.

Can Commons Councils be imposed from outside?

No, they are voluntary and can be established only where there is substantial support amongst those with interests in the land (the commoners – especially those who actively exercise their rights; owners and other legal interests).

What are the possible benefits?

One of the great advantages of commons councils is that they enable decisions to be made by majority voting, so relieving the burden of trying to reach unanimous decisions.  They will have the power to make rules relating to agricultural activities, the management of vegetation, and the exercise of common rights, which are binding on all those with interests on a common.  This may enable commons to secure Environmental Stewardship funding where previously reaching agreement has proved difficult.

Who will be members of Commons Councils?

They will be made up of locally elected representatives of the different interests on a common.

How are they established?

Commons Councils are individually founded through an establishment order made by the Secretary of State, who will need to be assured that there is substantial support from those with interests on the land.

Where can I find out more?

Two information leaflets have been written by the Foundation for Common Land.  These are intended for commoners, landowners, local commons associations and others contemplating the setting up of a commons council.

Further information