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Country News - 2004

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Guarded welcome for new country code

Tuesday 13 July 2004

The new Countryside Code, due to be launched on Monday 12 July, has been welcomed by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) as a positive move in educating the public about the countryside, but it says, the real concern is how people are expected to know where and when they can enjoy the new rights of access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, due to be launched in some parts of the country on September 19.

Speaking of the code, Douglas Chalmers, CLA Regional Director North says: "I hope that the publication of this new Countryside Code and all the associated publicity will help get the message across that people must behave responsibly when out and about in the Countryside and remember that farms are a place of work as well as someone's home.

"The code appears to be aimed at children and families, which is of course important, but I hope that the serious messages do not get lost in the presentation.

The CLA, which has been involved in helping draw up the content of the Countryside Code, says that it is the first publication of its type to mention the new rights of open access . The CLA worries that the introduction of these rights will lead to confusion and potential danger in the countryside.

Mr Chalmers says: "The Code is a start, if a simple one. What the Countryside Agency must now do is make it absolutely clear where and when walkers can enjoy the new open access rights because there is huge potential for misunderstanding. If land managers have had little clarification as yet on signage for restrictions and closures for the safety of the public in certain areas or during specific farming practices, how can we expect the visitors to the countryside to understand?

"The danger with this Code is that it might give a false sense of security to the walker. Come September 19th, I can see this causing problems . Misunderstandings can be sorted out, but where inherently dangerous land has been mapped as 'open country ', visitors may walk themselves into trouble."


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