New-look Countryside Code is welcome

Rural Infographics 1024x512 px v310_77650

The NFU has welcomed the news that a revised Countryside Code has been launched today (31March) after working closely with Defra and Natural England to refresh the messages in the Code, bring it up to date and help address the recent increase in access-related issues such as keeping to public rights of way, ensuring dogs are under control and dog waste is binned.

Responding, NFU Deputy President, Stuart Roberts, said: "The British countryside offers a multitude of benefits to the public, including exercise and recreation, the opportunity to learn about where our food comes from and how our rural landscapes are carefully managed.

“Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the countryside has been invaluable in Britain’s recovery, with millions of people visiting during lockdown to improve their physical and mental wellbeing.

“This new look Countryside Code will help to engage with walkers and everyone who visits and enjoys our farmed environment, and it’s important that people follow the simple rules and respect the countryside around them.

"We are pleased that many of the recommendations we made about how the Code could be refreshed have been included. As we highlight in the NFU’s recent ‘Levelling up rural Britain’ report, it is important that rural access and engagement is recognised and respected and that the modern-day rights of way network benefits both farmers and the public.

“The NFU, government and other stakeholders will be promoting the new look Code and its core messages to ensure everyone who visits the countryside is provided with greater awareness of the need to keep safe and responsible as well as the role farming plays in shaping our much-loved working landscapes.”

The NFU has produced a series of infographics to help spread the message about the revised Countryside Code. Download them here.

The new-look Code was also welcomed across the North East by the region's four county chairmen:

Yorkshire West Riding County Chairman, Ripponden farmer Rachael Hallos said: “The West Riding is easily accessible to millions of people and has some of the most iconic travel attractions in the region.

“We are at the beginning of a really busy time in the countryside, with lambs and calves arriving thick and fast in the fields, so it is especially important that we understand how to enjoy our time in the great outdoors while not disturbing or frightening animals that live there all year round.

“The launch of a 'refreshed' countryside code will serve as a reminder to us all how to respectfully share what we have on our doorstep.”

York East County Chairman, Withernsea farmer Angela Kirkwood said: “Farmers are working hard from Wolds to Coast, producing a fantastic array of high quality food and caring for our stunning natural environment.  

“We are looking forward to welcoming a lot of visitors as the weather improves, and hope that the updated Countryside Code is a reminder to us all to be responsible and respectful when enjoying the countryside.”

North Riding and Durham County Chairman, Darlington farmer William Maughan said: “During the past twelve months we’ve seen a big increase in the number of people visiting the countryside for exercise and recreation and to escape the confinement of lockdown.

“It’s good to see everyone enjoying the experience, but we also appeal to people to understand that the countryside is where we produce food for the nation and where important habitats for an array of wildlife can be found.

“By following the simple rules set out in the new Countryside Code, everyone can enjoy the fresh air and wide open spaces without impacting on the farm livestock, crops and wildlife around them.”

Northumberland County Chairman, Stocksfield farmer Tom Richardson said: “With its stunning National Park, beautiful coastline and rich heritage, Northumberland attracts millions of visitors, with even more people than normal heading into the countryside during the pandemic.

“It’s great to see people enjoying everything the countryside has to offer, but as we enter a very busy time of year, with lambs and calves arriving thick and fast, new crops emerging and all our wonderful wildlife raising their young, it’s really important for us all to be careful and respectful when out walking, especially if walking with dogs.

“A lot of thought has gone into the revised Countryside Code to give everyone some simple rules to follow to stay safe and respectful. This should allow us all to have a fantastic day out and be sure we cause no harm in the process.”