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New Countryside Code For New Wave Of Visitors

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

A new, refreshed Countryside Code has been launched by Natural England and Natural Resources Wales.

The first Countryside Code booklet was published in 1951. This update – the first in over a decade – has been shaped by nearly 4,000 stakeholder responses to an online survey, which sought views on best practices for visiting the countryside and protecting the natural environment. Changes include advice on creating a welcoming environment, clearer rules to underline the importance of clearing away dog poo; staying on footpaths; and not feeding livestock. It also provides advice on how to seek permissions for activities such as wild swimming.

Key changes to the Countryside Code include:

  • New advice for people to ‘be nice, say hello, share the space’ as well as ‘enjoy your visit, have fun, make a memory’.
  • A reminder not to feed livestock, horses or wild animals.
  • To stay on marked footpaths, even if they are muddy, to protect crops and wildlife.
  • Information on permissions to do certain outdoor activities, such as wild swimming.
  • Clearer rules for dog walkers to take home dog poo and use their own bin if there are no public waste bins.
  • A refreshed tone of voice, creating a guide for the public rather than a list of rules – recognising the significant health and wellbeing benefits of spending time in nature.
  • New wording to make clear that the code applies to all our natural places, including parks and waterways, coast and countryside.

Natural England Chair Tony Juniper said:
“The Countryside Code has been providing an excellent guide for people on how to get out and enjoy the outdoors safely for over 70 years.
With more people than ever before seeking solace in nature, this refresh could not come at a more crucial time. We want everyone to be aware of the Code, so people of all ages and backgrounds can enjoy the invaluable health and wellbeing benefits that nature offers, while giving it the respect it deserves.”

Rural Affairs Minister Lord Gardiner said:
“With so many people visiting the countryside, the Countryside Code has never felt more relevant. Crucially it now covers all green spaces, waterways, the coast and even parks in towns and cities, so that everyone, as we lift restrictions, can enjoy a greener future. I’d like to thank Natural England and all the many stakeholders who helped shape this updated version. It is an excellent guide and I urge visitors to nature – old and new – to follow its advice.”

The pandemic has changed people’s relationships with nature. Evidence from Natural England shows the importance of nature to people’s health and wellbeing, with 85% of people surveyed saying that being in nature makes them happy.

Natural England is also setting up a long-term Countryside Code campaign to increase awareness of the Code through 2021 and beyond. The campaign will focus on encouraging behavioural change amongst public audiences to act responsibly when visiting outdoors, by respecting those who manage the land and adhering to the Code.

Wilson Browne act for many landowners who have public rights of way across their property. Whilst happy to see the public enjoying the countryside, it is important that there is a wider understanding of the Countryside Code in order to protect livestock, crops, property and the very environment the public are out there looking to enjoy.

You can read the new Code here

Ika Částka

Posted:

Ika Částka

Partner

Ika is Head of the Commercial Property team and has been advising individuals and businesses across Northamptonshire since 1986, specialising in commercial, agricultural and rural property matters for both businesses and individuals.