A NEW, refreshed Countryside Code has been launched today by Natural England and Natural Resources Wales, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the creation of the founding booklet.

With more people enjoying the outdoors than ever before, the code has been revised to help people enjoy countryside in a safe and respectful way.

Changes include advice on creating a welcoming environment, for example by saying hello to fellow visitors; clearer rules to underline the importance of clearing away dog poo; staying on footpaths; and not feeding livestock. It also provides advice on how to seek permissions for activities such as wild swimming.

NFU deputy president Stuart Roberts said: “The iconic 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 stunning landscapes are maintained.

“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 respects the countryside around them.

“The NFU has been working closely with Defra and Natural England on a refresh of the messaging in the Code to bring it up to date and to 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. We are pleased that many of our recommendations 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.”

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.”

The NFU has produced a series of infographics to help spread the message about the revised Countryside Code; see www.nfuonline.com.