Almost half the land in England and Wales, a significant part of which is used for shooting, is unregistered and the Nottingham-based Land Registry Office is eager for landowners to rectify this.

Since 1990, all rural land sold, mortgaged or transferred to a beneficiary must be registered. Land which has been in the same hands since before 1990, and has not fallen into any of those categories, is subject to voluntary registration. It is believed that large areas of land throughout England and Wales are unregistered as a result of the slow turnover of landownership in rural areas. By 2012 the registry office hopes to have all land in England and Wales registered (by which time it could be a legal requirement) and is currently offering financial incentives for landowners to do so.

Shooters raised concerns, however, that when the land is registered the use is also noted. Therefore, the registry would hold a database of shoots and shoot owners, which could lead to privacy issues.

Shooting Times spoke to Roger Tetlow, legal advisor for the CLA, who said: ?The use of land, if it were for shooting or not, will not be put on to a separate database. Once you have registered a title it is open to public inspection and anyone can make a search against any piece of land.

A small fee must be paid to obtain details of the ownership, the extent of the land owned and whether it is mortgaged. The register also holds information on whether there are any rights and covenants that affect the land or title.? When asked if the land use is noted, Mr Tetlow replied: ?No, it isn?t. What it provides the Government with is a register of who owns land in England and Wales. It can then be used for tax collection and law enforcement purposes. The Land Registry wants to get everyone registered by 2012. I can?t see any justification for voluntarily registration.?

To encourage people to register their land, the registry is offering a 25 per cent discount on its registration fee ? typically around £525. It has also set up a national register development team and local teams for each office. Maggie Telfer, head of register development at the Land Registry Office, told ST: ?We know that landowners lead busy lives. Our aim is to make the voluntary registration as straightforward as possible. We want to raise awareness of how registering land modernises and simplifies existing information.?

The CLA?s Mr Tetlow noted: ?The only incentive to registering, in my opinion, is if your land is prone to the risk of adverse possession, basically squatters. It is a risk with remote unenclosed land but if you have a capable keeper it shouldn?t be a problem.?

For more information on registering land, visit www.landreg.gov.uk