THE COUNTRYSIDE Code has been updated for the first time in 50 years in preparation for the introduction of the new right-to-roam.

The Countryside Agency has published the new code which for the first time includes guidance for land managers.

This section urges farmers and land owners to be aware of their rights, responsibilities and liabilities.

It suggests that farmers should try to make it easy for visitors to react responsibly and identify possible threats to visitors‘ safety.

The section of the code aimed at walkers contains some different advice to the old code.

Instead of telling ramblers to close all gates behind them, it suggests that gates and property should be left as they were found.

“A farmer will normally leave a gate closed to keep livestock in, but may sometimes leave it open so they can reach food and water,” it says.

“Leave gates are you find them or follow instructions on signs.”

Other messages include keeping dogs under close control, taking litter home and showing consideration to other people.

To publicise the new code, the agency has commissioned Aardman, the animation company behind Wallace and Gromit, to create some new Creature Comforts animals.

Animated public service broadcasts, featuring the new animals, will be screened on TV channels across England and Wales and at selected cinemas.

Educational materials, specially developed for teachers and youth leaders, will be available from Jan 2005.

The Country Land and Business Association said the code was a handy reminder to young people on how to respect the countryside.

But CLA president Mark Hudson warned there was still a huge task ahead in explaining the complexities of when and where people could use the new right-to-roam.

“It falls a long way short of clearly explaining to the public about the new areas of access land,” he warned.

Images courtesy of Image © Aardman Animations Ltd 2004