Tarka Trail

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Dog ban scrapped

Dog friendly north devon
Controversial plans to enforce dogs on leads has been dropped

North Devon District Council have been looking into ways of dealing with anti-social dog behaviour and back in the summer they went out to public consultation to gauge the opinion of North Devon residents.

The consultation was regarding a PSPO (Public Spaces Protection Order) which would have introduced increased fines for dog mess and for dogs off-lead in public places throughout North Devon.

The online consultation form received over 3,000 responses and while most people agreed that dog owners should be responsible for dog mess and dogs should be prohibited from some public places, the suggestion that dogs should kept on leads on all beaches, the Braunton Burrows and the Tarka Trail was met with strong resistance.

The universal ‘dogs-on-leads’ idea was dropped from their initial plans at a meeting in November, but the council still intend to push through other measures to combat what they see as an anti-social, public nuisance by a small minority of irresponsible dog owners.

Measures include the requirement for people to pick up after their dog and for owners to place any out of control dog on a lead when requested.

Dogs will need to be on lead in a public cemetery and would not be allowed on any formal sports pitch or enclosed children’s play area, which is simply a reinforcement of existing rules.

They would be banned from Croyde and Combe Martin beaches between May 1 and September 30, which again is already in place.

One rule which may cause some confusion is that they should not be near any high tide bird roosting sites between October 1 and March 31. While most responsible dog owners would respect this rule, it is not always obvious where these locations are.

Another rule that may cause confusion is that “Dogs should be on lead at certain locations in Braunton Burrows at certain times of year – as clarified by the landowner”. For some time now, there has been confusion on the Braunton Burrows as the signs issued by Natural England and agreed by landowners Christie Estates state “Dogs should be under close control around livestock” but the interpretation of ‘around livestock’ is unclear. Some people think this means when walking through the livestock, others believe it to mean when livestock are close enough to be affected by their dogs, then there are some who interpret it as being in the same zone as the livestock.

One problem that is clear at the Braunton Burrows is dog mess. The Braunton Burrows is a wonderful area that is protected by UNESCO and forms part of the North Devon Biosphere and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

It attracts schools, families, walkers and visitors from all over the UK and the world. More often than not, their introduction to the Burrows from Sandy Lane car park is a footpath littered with dog mess, which is a real shame and the sort of problem the council are trying to deal with.

The new stricter measures could see the culprits being fined £100 if they are caught not cleaning up after their dog, which the vast majority of responsible dog owners would welcome.

Anyone found to be breaking any of the new rules could find themselves facing a fine of £100.

Dog ban scrapped