Dog Walkers Set To Desert Burnham Beeches If Off Lead Restrictions Are Enforced

Dog walkers who regularly use Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire may desert the site if the City of London Corporation, which manages the land, enforces dog control orders which will see off lead access for dogs banned on 59 per cent of the site.

A Kennel Club survey of dog owners who use Burnham Beeches to walk their dogs found that almost 83 per cent would walk their dog elsewhere if they were unable to let their dogs off lead, which the Kennel Club believes could lead to displacement issues and have a negative impact on the local economy, as more than two thirds of dog walkers said they would spend less in the on-site café and less on parking if they could not let their dogs off lead, if they visit the site at all.

Research carried out by the Kennel Club, Natural England and Hampshire County Council found that off lead access is the single most important influence for dog walkers when deciding where to walk their dogs, and the Kennel Club is concerned that by banning off lead access at Burnham Beeches, dog walkers, the largest daily user group of the land, will have to exercise their dogs off lead in other nearby locations, many of which may not be suitable or may be too small to cope with a large scale displacement of dogs and their owners.  Furthermore, local landowners may well see an increase in dog walking on their land, including on farm land, golf courses, parks and other sensitive areas.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: "We do have a number of concerns with the City of London's plans for Burnham Beeches, namely that dog owners will have to go elsewhere to give their dogs the proper amount of off lead exercise which could cause more problems than it solves.  Banning dogs from such a large area, the most heavy handed restrictions on one site that we have ever seen, has no constructive purpose and it seems like the City of London are simply trying to brush under the carpet whatever dog-related issues they are using to justify this.  Even the government's advisor on the natural environment, Natural England, has said it cannot support the proposals on nature conservation grounds, which is one of the reasons being cited by the City of London.

"The Kennel Club supports certain aspects of the proposals, including encouraging people to pick up after their dogs, but the restrictions that are being proposed in Burnham Beeches in relation to dogs on leads are more extensive and restrictive than any other dog control orders, national law or local byelaw in the UK that we have seen, many of which are on sites that are far more highly designated for wildlife than Burnham Beeches.

"The Kennel Club has submitted a formal response to the City of London's consultation and we want to try and secure a fair outcome for all who use the site, as well as protecting the welfare of local dogs who need a decent level of off lead exercise to stay fit and healthy.  Responsible dog owners are the core daily user group for the land at Burnham Beeches and we do not want to see them suffering because of unnecessary and seemingly anti-dog restrictions."

Other control orders have been proposed for Burnham Beeches which would limit the number of dogs one person can walk at a time to four, two less than advised by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, ban dogs completely from a specific area, and introduce a 'dogs on lead by direction' order, which gives an authorised officer the right to ask for a dog to be put on a lead, and a dog fouling order.

More information on the proposals, the Kennel Club's response to the consultation and briefing on the issue can be found at

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