CLA asks for support to encourage responsible use of our countryside

Letters prompted by potential influx of countryside visitors

CLA Director North Dorothy Fairburn has written to both Police and Crime Commissioners and National Parks in the North (Lancashire; Cumbria; North East; Yorkshire) to support efforts to encourage responsible public use of green spaces in rural areas as set out in the Countryside Code.

The letters were prompted by government’s plans to ease Covid movement restrictions on residents from the end of March when a surge in visitors to the countryside is expected. In the two weeks to the 12th of April, visitor service businesses such as cafés, pubs, restaurants or accommodation providers won’t be able to open. Even campsites are expected to remain closed.

While visitors are very much welcome to the countryside, it is important that they visit in a responsible manner. The farming calendar is under great pressure at the end of March and beginning of April as farmers welcome vulnerable lambs into the world. Ground-nesting birds are also sitting at this time and can easily be dislodged by loose dogs.

Based on last year’s experience, there could be pressure from antisocial behaviour in the countryside, specifically from wild camping, camp fires and BBQs as well as the potential for excess drinking as citizens are liberated from their confinement.

The letter urged National Parks and Police and Crime Commissioners to support the CLA’s call on visitors to act responsibly in the countryside by potentially increasing police and ranger patrols in rural areas, especially from Easter onwards when a great influx of visitors are expected.

CLA Director North Dorothy Fairburn said: “Many of the National Parks and Police and Crime Commissioners have already responded to our call and have put in place proactive measures to address any issues associated with overcrowding and anti-social behaviour that is anticipated with more people visiting rural areas.”“We welcome responsible visitors to share in the beauty our countryside offers. All visitors should be conscious that the countryside is a place of work where the land, livestock, machinery, wildlife and environment must be respected.”"The Countryside Code is generally adhered to by the majority of people, but there can be incidents of anti-social behaviour or a lack of awareness of the working countryside. This became very apparent during the series of lockdowns which saw much greater numbers of visitors to rural areas.”

  • Three top tips for those using the countryside:
  • Livestock worrying by dogs not adequately controlled by their owners is on the increase. Please keep your dog on a lead if you are anywhere near livestock. Apart from being a danger to lambs and ewes, dogs can also pose a threat to nesting birds if not kept under close control. Also, clear up after your dog.
  • Disposable BBQs are popular for cooking food out in the countryside. They are easy to transport and light but impossible to clear-up afterwards as they are too hot to put in a bag to take home, meaning they are often left and pose a huge wildfire risk.
  • Fly-tipping and littering is a blight on the landscape. Please ensure you take your litter home with you and dispose of bulky waste through proper legal channels.
  • When riding a bike or driving a vehicle, slow down or stop for horses, walkers and farm animals and give them plenty of room. By law, cyclists must give way to walkers and horse- riders on bridleways.

The Countryside Code applies to all parts of the countryside in England and Wales. It aims to help everyone respect, protect and enjoy the outdoors. Follow the Countryside Code here