Natural England (NE) has now launched an online survey in order to engage fully on the Countryside Code Review.
NE is seeking your views on how it can refresh the Countryside Code. It plans to update the short version of the Code, aimed at visitors the countryside, as well as the longer, full version. It is planning to produce two versions of the full Code – one aimed at visitors to the countryside, and one aimed at landowners and land managers.
To help Natural England gather feedback on this, it is encouraging farmers, landowners and stakeholders to participate in this online survey, which will take approximately 25 minutes to complete.
The survey will be open until 5pm on Monday 11 January 2021.
Previous activity on the Countryside Code review
Natural England recently proposed a review of the Countryside Code. The NFU consulted with members to feed into this consultation.
The previous consultation has now closed. Thank you to all the members who provided feedback.
The NFU will be taking part in a virtual working group in the New Year. NE will then share a draft of the proposed refreshed version of the Code before it is signed off by the Secretary of State.
The NFU recognises that access to the countryside is of huge importance to many who regularly enjoy their visits to our working environments. There are multiple health and wellness benefits to getting out and enjoying the countryside, which the NFU actively promotes. During 2020, this has been reinforced as the countryside has provided much needed respite to many during this unprecedented time. For that reason, the NFU has worked closely with Defra and Natural England (NE) to ensure the safety of everyone using public access rights in the countryside. The increase of new visitors to the countryside has spurred NE to review the Countryside Code slightly earlier than planned. The NFU has been invited as a key consultee to feedback on the proposed review.
One of the key lessons learned from the COVID-19 outbreak was the importance of people adhering to the Countryside Code when they visit the countryside for exercise or recreation. Farmers want people to engage with where their food comes from. But it is important that this access and engagement is achieved in a responsible way and the fact that much of this land is a working environment is recognised, and respected, by the public.
The NFU welcomes the review of the Countryside Code and is working with NE on refreshing the messaging to suit a modern audience. NE also plan on including a dedicated agricultural supplement for the Countryside Code which is encouraging.
Natural England currently has three levels of information on the Countryside Code: short and long versions for the public plus additional information for land managers and owners for areas of open country (currently incorporated into the long leaflet). The recently refreshed short version was produced this summer to respond to COVID-19 and is easily reproducible at A4, A5 and A6 and can be laminated for use on site. The full version, while not incorrect, has for some time needed reviewing at least in terms of presentation and potential use on social media.
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