Dog poo, feeding animals, protecting footpaths and friendliness - New lockdown-proof version of the Countryside Code is released in time for summer

An updated version of the Countryside Code which takes into account modern - and lockdown-related - pressures on areas of natural beauty has been published.

Yorkshire Dales
Yorkshire Dales

Natural England has launched the new edition on the 70th anniversary of the first booklet's publication in 1951.

The guidelines now take into current account issues of concern to farmers and landowners, such as dogs being walked off the lead around livestock and members of the public feeding animals such as horses inappropriately, and the increased erosion of soil and damage to crops due to walkers diverting around well-used footpaths.

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A survey was sent to over 4,000 stakeholders whose responses were used to form the first major update to the Code for a decade.

It now emphasises the need to clear up dog mess, remain on footpaths and avoid feeding livestock, and includes guidelines on open water swimming to prevent drownings at beauty spots such as lakes and rivers.

Some revisions were also made in the summer of 2020 to address complaints such as sheep worrying and littering following the first lockdown.

Key changes to the Countryside Code

- New advice on behaving in a friendly and welcoming manner in areas which may be busier than normal

- A reminder not to feed livestock, horses or wild animals - they often have specific diets and certain foods can cause illness and even death

- 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 natural places, including parks and waterways, the coast and countryside