Fears of more dogs if access increased
By Catherine Hughes
FEARS that increased public access to the countryside could also mean more dogs have been raised by landowners.
Country Landowners Association president, Ian MacNicol, says dogs, both on and off the lead, not only disturb livestock but also wildlife and ground nesting birds.
And supermarkets did not want crops being grown for them to be fouled by dogs. "It will be a huge question as to whether dogs will be allowed on the land at all," he said.
Presenting the CLAs response to the governments consultation on improving access to the countryside, Mr MacNicol again highlighted the results of a recent opinion poll which showed that 92% of people supported restrictions on access to protect and conserve wildlife and the environment, with 85% supporting similar restrictions to protect farming activities and livestock.
The survey also revealed that 63% said they preferred to follow waymarked paths rather than choosing their own route.
Mr MacNicol said the CLA was, therefore, encouraging landowners to meet peoples demands for better access close to their homes.
Despite the landowners longstanding insistence that increased access can be achieved by voluntary rather than statutory means – a view rejected by the Ramblers Association – the CLA conceded that the government consultation documents three pages on the voluntary approach, compared with 26 pages on possible legislation, was a clear indication of how ministers were thinking.
Meanwhile, the Countryside Commission, in its response to the consultation, has advised government to adopt both approaches.
Spokesman Bob Roberts said: "We believe that a new national framework incorporating some legislation for the provision and control of access to open countryside is now required, together with a significant expansion of agri-environment measures to help deliver positive management of this land."
He added that increased public access would represent a significant cultural change. *