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Rights of common

A right of common is a right, usually shared with an owner of land to take certain produce off the land.

There are many such rights of which pasturage (the right to put a specified number and type of animals onto the land to graze) is considered one of the most important. Other rights include: pannage (the right to put pigs onto the land to eat acorns etc.); turbary (the right to cut peat or turf for fuel); estovers (the right to take wood or bracken for fuel); and piscary (the right to fish); and common in the soil (right of mineral extraction).

A right of common is a legal right, which is usually tied to properties or land rather than to a family name. Rights of common had to be registered most recently under the Commons Registration Act 1965.  After the Commons Act 2006, it became illegal to detach rights of common from the properties or land to which they are tied. If land with common rights is sold today, the rights transfer with the land to the new owner.

Rights of common are an important part of the rich heritage of our commons. Common land often has significant nature conservation interest, and farmers who still exercise their rights of common play an important part in managing these precious habitats for wildlife.

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