11 Dog management |
86. The Marine Bill proposes a change, in the
case of land designated 'coastal margin', from the CROW Act provisions
relating to dog management. The CROW Act requires dogs to be kept
on short leads between 1 March and 31 July, and at all other times
in the vicinity of livestock. In the context of coastal margin,
dogs will simply be required to be "under close control at
all times". Natural England glosses this further by saying
that "[d]ogs may be restricted to leads where livestock are
present. However where there are cattle, signs should encourage
dog walkers to let go of any lead if they feel threatened by the
87. The requirement for "close control"
already applies on public rights of way. Some witnesses, such
as the CLA, the NFU and the Kennel Club, called for clarification
about what "close control" means.
The CLA pointed out both the risks of dogs worrying livestock
and the risk of them fouling crops next to the coastal pathit
gave an example of a farmer on the Lancashire coast whose contract
with a supermarket stipulated that dogs should be excluded from
the area where the vegetables were grown.
88. In its written evidence, the RSPB said it
was concerned that the Bill proposed a "significant change
in the "default" position regarding national restrictions
relating to dogs". It said the term "close control"
was "poorly understood and very ambiguous", and pointed
out that many areas of spreading room land would be grazed, and
were of high wildlife importance, including for breeding ground-nesting
birds. The RSPB therefore believed there was a "strong case
for maintaining, as the default position, the CROW Act Schedule
] requirements for spreading land, in respect of dogs".
Wildlife and Countryside Link said that:
Dogs can cause stock worrying and disturbance to
wildlife in coastal environments, notably ground nesting birds
and overwintering shoreline birds. Therefore, we believe that
a greater level of restrictions on dogs will be needed in many
locations on the coast beyond close control.
89. The Kennel Club and the Pet Advisory Committee
both drew attention to the health benefits of dog walking and
wanted any restrictions on dogs to be "sensible, balanced
and reasonable", and "credible and proportionate".
They should be locally determined and adopt the "least restrictive
90. The greater access to the coast that will
be created by the Bill will also give dog owners increased opportunities
for walks with their animals. We
agree that the nature of the coastal trail and spreading room
suggests that the general rule should be the same as that which
already applies on public rights of way, although in the vicinity
of livestock and certain wildlifeand some cropsthe
requirement should be for them to be on short leads as it is under
CROW. However the precise meaning of "close control"
is not obvious or well defined, so we urge access authorities
to do more to clarify the term by providing dog owners with specific
examples of what it means in practice.
91. In its final Scheme, Natural
England must demonstrate that when setting the line of the route
it will keep dogs off land used for vegetable and salad crops
where the farmer's contracts stipulates that dogs must be excluded
from the cropped area.
131 Natural England, Coastal access: Natural England's
Outline Scheme, April 2008, pp 5, 20. Back
Ev 32, para 13.2; Ev 37, para 33. The Kennel Club suggests that
guidance should refer to specific behaviours such as "always
keeping your dog in sight" or "not letting your dog
approach or chase farm animals and wildlife" (Ev 145, para
Ev 32, para 13 Back
Ev 64, paras 20-21 Back
Ev 201, para 13 Back
Ev 143-144, 145, paras 4, 6; Ev 207, Executive summary. Back