Farm unions have responded positively to the launch of the new Countryside Code which was announced by the government today (April 1).
NFU deputy president Stuart Roberts said that "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 respect 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 highlighted 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."
John Davies. NFU Cymru president. said that "the Covid pandemic has brought to light the multiple health and wellbeing benefits of getting out into the beautiful Welsh countryside, with millions of people taking the opportunity to visit during lockdown".
It’s also a great opportunity to learn more about where our food comes from and to appreciate the iconic landscapes, maintained and enhanced by Welsh farmers.
"With larger than usual numbers and many first-time walkers visiting the Welsh countryside, we’re pleased the new Countryside Code will educate and remind walkers of the importance of following the simple rules and respecting the countryside.
"This is especially crucial as much of the access land and rights of way network is an active working environment where farmers and growers carry out their daily job of producing food.
NFU Cymru has worked with Natural Resources Wales [NRW] to revise the Countryside Code messaging and ensure its fit for purpose 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," he concluded.