Memorandum submitted by the Countryside
1. The Countryside Agency is responsible
for advising government and taking action on issues affecting
the social, economic and environmental well-being of the English
countryside. The Agency's Chairman, Ewen Cameron, is the Government's
2. Our role in the promotion of rural tourism
in the UK is one of influencing and enablement. We are playing
an active role on the Government's Rural Recovery Task Force which
is implementing a package of measures in response to the foot
and mouth outbreak, including making available additional cash
resources to promote UK tourism.
3. A new Countryside Agency/English Tourism
Council joint rural tourism strategy, will be launched shortly.
The Strategy, titled Working for the Countryside: a strategy
for rural tourism in England 2001-05, is likely to form the
core of the longer term actions in the tourism recovery plan for
4. Since the outbreak of foot and mouth,
the Countryside Agency has made available information for tourists
and day visitors to the English countryside via our website. The
website contains links to those of national organisations concerned
with rural tourism and recreation, and provides advice, updated
daily, on where visitors may safely go in the countryside. The
regional map based pages carry advice on rights of way closures,
and links to websites of local authorities and Regional Tourist
Boards. The links allow visitors to obtain quick access to information
on tourism opportunities. The central message carried by our foot
and mouth information page is that much of the English countryside
is still open and there is plenty to see and do.
5. The Countryside Agency has been asked
by government to help provide advice to the public on precautions
they should take to limit the spread of foot and mouth disease
if they use an officially opened footpath or bridleway during
the current outbreak. We have therefore prepared a notice that
should be treated as an emergency Country Code. This will be applied
on specific rights of way and will provide a consistent message
across the country. It should be adopted by all local authorities.
6. The notice conveys the message of Annex
C of the MAFF Guidelines (http://www.maff.gov.uk/animalh/diseases/fmd/business/guidancel.asp)
and has the approval of Elliot Morley (Minister for Fisheries
and the Countryside) and both MAFF and DETR officials. The information
is printed on weatherproof material and is intended to be displayed
at prominent places where paths begin.
7. The Countryside Agency has issued two
statements to the media to inform the public that much of the
countryside is still open for enjoyment:
14 March 2001 All of countryside is not a
no go area.
16 March 2001 New Countryside Agency web
pages to tell people where they can safely visit.
8. We have also issued a number of press
releases highlighting the problems facing rural tourism and other
businesses, and the potential impact of the crisis on the rural
economy as a whole:
1 March 2001 Foot and mouth implications
for wider rural businesses.
13 March 2001 Immediate help needed for wider
20 March 2001 Initial aid package to help
countryside in crisis a start but not enough.
21 March 2001 Impact of countryside crisis
will last at least a year.
22 March 2001 Cumbrian farmers face stark
9. Lastly, the Government has made available
to us an additional £3.8 million grant in aid. We will be
using this money to assist local authorities, including National
Park Authorities, to accelerate the process of re-opening rights
of way and access land where it is safer to do so.