Gazette campaign: Respect our green spaces – and follow the Countryside Code

More people than ever are venturing into the countryside as they seek much-needed fresh air after a year of Covid-19 restrictions.

West Sussex sheep, pictured by Steve Robards
West Sussex sheep, pictured by Steve Robards

As a result, it is likely that some people are visiting rural areas for the first time.

They may not be aware of the rules – helpfully set out in the Countryside Code – which was last week refreshed for the first time in more than a decade.

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From keeping dogs under control to taking litter home with you and not feeding animals, the code advises visitors of the dos and don’ts of the countryside.

Following the code is crucial – and the West Sussex Gazette has this week launched an awareness campaign, backed by farmers and agricultural bodies such as the CLA, which represents thousands of landowners in the South East.

Recent incidents prove why it is so important.

In this week’s Gazette, the NFU said it was receiving weekly reports of sheep worrying incidents across the county, caused by dogs running off the lead.

Police issued a warning last week after a dog got into a field in Nyewood containing a dozen sheep, killing one ewe and injuring another. All of the sheep were in lamb.

A Lancing farmer said one of his ewes had to be put down after an ‘horrific’ dog attack on Easter Sunday.

Click here for the full story.

And a Storrington polo groom urged people not to feed horses or livestock they come across after she spotted someone feeding a horse she looked after a pretzel and a BLT sandwich was tossed into its field. Click here for the full story.

Visitors to the countryside are most welcome – and first-timers are heartily encouraged to explore the best of what West Sussex has to offer.

But Gazette columnist and Tillington farmer Gwyn Jones perhaps sums it up best:

“We all want the general public to enjoy the countryside and we recognise the importance of enjoying the great outdoors for mental wellbeing,” he said.

“We are proud of our countryside and its heritage but this is a densely populated country and we need rules and guidance in order to protect it and its inhabitants – people and animals.”

Read the code at www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-countryside-code – and share this comment piece with friends and family so awareness of the code spreads. Thank you.

Pick up a copy of this week’s West Sussex Gazette (April 7) and visit our website – www.westsussextoday.co.uk – and like our Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/WSGazette – for the latest news from across the county.