HC Deb 03 March 2004 vol 418 c949W
Mr. Peter Atkinson

To ask the Secretary of State Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress her Department is making on its revision of the Country Code; and whether the revised code will require dogs to be kept on a short fixed lead(a) near livestock and (b) during the bird breeding season on land to which the statutory rights of access to open country under the countryside and rights of way act 2000 applies. [156767]

Alun Michael

The duty to issue a code of conduct for the guidance of persons visiting the countryside lies statutorily with the Countryside Agency. The agency has been consulting widely on proposals for updating the code, which was last revised in 1981. The agency aims to publish a new code in the summer, which will include general guidance on legal responsibilities regarding dogs. The code will not introduce any new responsibilities.

The Countryside and Rights of Way act 2000 itself requires people exercising the new right of access to keep dogs on short leads when in the vicinity of livestock, and on all access land between 1 March and 31 July. The Act also provides for local restrictions on dogs, including bans, where necessary, and allows landowners to exclude dogs for up to six weeks in any one year from fields or enclosures where lambing is taking place and for up to five years from land managed for the breeding and shooting of grouse.

The Countryside Agency has been seeking views on meeting its obligations under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 to provide guidance for people using the new right of access and for people with an interest in land to which the new right applies. Information about the statutory requirements relating to dogs will be included in communications with the public when the new right of access is introduced.