National Park calls for tighter foot and mouth controls

ANY FUTURE outbreak of foot and mouth disease must not paralyse the rural economy by restricting public access to areas of the National Park, according to the Lake District National Park Authority.

And the authority is calling for the closure of land to be limited to within a three kilometre radius of premises infected with the disease.

Public access is a key issue in the official response of the authority to DEFRA’s consultation document on how future outbreaks of f&M should be handled.

The LDNPA says there were “devastating impacts” on the environment, community and economy of the national park during the outbreak.

It is calling for any future outbreak to be “effectively controlled” from an agricultural aspect but in a way that maintained as much public access as possible to allow the rural economy to continue.

Andrew Herbert, the LDNPA’s conservation officer said the “blanket closure” of public access to the countryside in 2001 was achieved by giving local authorities the power to close land and restrict rights of way.

“We now know how damaging this was to the rural economy, in particular tourism.

“The situation wasn’t helped by the lack of risk assessment guidance undertaken when the powers were introduced.”

The LDNPA says by limiting the closure of land to within a three kilometre radius of an infected farm would mean more land in the national park could remain open for access. It would limit the damage to tourism, especially if visitors were reassured about which areas were open to them.