CLA urges the public to use rural landscapes responsibly

With the festive holidays just around the corner, thousands of people will be out enjoying the beautiful countryside this Christmas and New Year.

The CLA South East is urging the public to stick to footpaths, bridleways and respect other users of the rights of way.

The spirit of the Countryside Code is generally adhered to by the majority of people, but there are a few worrying trends that are either based on anti-social behaviour or a lack of awareness of the working countryside.

Common problems include littering, fly-tipping and mismanaging dogs. Accessing the fresh air and getting close to nature have widely researched health and wellbeing benefits, but visitors and their dogs need to act responsibly when walking off their Christmas dinners.

Megan Lock, Rural Adviser at CLA South East, said: “There’s nothing better than burning off all that festive food than by getting out and about in our wonderful countryside.

“But there are a few things to be aware of. Livestock worrying by dogs that are not adequately controlled by their owners is on the increase.

“There are almost daily reports of sheep worrying, including a proliferation of graphic images of animals on social media, especially sheep, that have been slaughtered by out of control dogs.

“Landowners welcome visitors to share in the natural and farmer-shaped beauty of our countryside, but please don’t stray from footpaths and bridleways, leave gates how you find them, take rubbish home and keep dogs under control.

“Following the Countryside Code and using common sense and courtesy is the least we can do as an unspoken ‘thank you’ to the custodians of our rural landscape.”