Call to stop the damage as crowds flock to Shropshire's countryside

The county's countryside is being damaged in increasing incidents of irresponsible behaviour as people flock to enjoy the area, Shropshire Council has said.

The Mere at Ellesmere
The Mere at Ellesmere

The authority is now calling for visitors to the countryside to be respectful so it can be protected for everyone to enjoy.

Throughout 2020, Shropshire’s countryside has been a lifeline to many throughout lockdown. In July 2020, more than 35,000 people visited The Mere in Ellesmere, compared to 20,000 in July 2019.

To help protect Shropshire’s countryside, people are being urged to behave respectfully by following local coronavirus rules and the Countryside Code.

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Lezley Picton, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure, waste and communications, said: “We’re blessed in Shropshire to have such beautiful countryside on our doorstep, and it has been a real lifeline to residents of the county throughout 2020.

“As such, it’s important that we all do our part to protect it, and the best way we can do this is by behaving respectfully. On the whole we’re pleased that people are, but there are instances of some shamelessly disrespecting the countryside, causing damage and concern for local communities.

“This is why we are launching this campaign to encourage everyone to be respectful when visiting the countryside, whether you’re a Shropshire resident or visitor to the county. I would urge anyone visiting rural Shropshire to check the Countryside Code, become familiar with local coronavirus rules and plan your visit.

“Anyone wishing to help share the message can do so by sharing the graphics that we will make available shortly.”

The Countryside Code includes guidance such as remembering there are local communities living in rural areas and to make sure vehicles are not parked in front of drives and gateways. It also advises to plan ahead and make sure gates and properties are left as they are found to protect livestock.

Heather Kidd, Shropshire Councillor for Chirbury and Worthen, said: “I am keen to share our beautiful area, but farmers’ livelihoods and local residents’ enjoyment are also important. Visitors to the countryside just need to be sensitive to country life and follow the Countryside Code.”

Ruth Houghton, Shropshire Councillor for Bishop’s Castle, added: “Our local economy relies on tourism and, as such, visitors are made to feel very welcome in our area, and we really hope that they enjoy our stunning countryside and outdoor activities. All we ask is that anyone visiting south Shropshire follows the Countryside Code and leaves it as they find it for others to enjoy.”

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