Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Countryside Agency

  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 Rural Advocate.

  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 rural areas.

  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 ( 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 rural recovery.

    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 choice.

  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.

April 2001

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 10 May 2001