THE Government is facing pressure from the agricultural sector to teach the Countryside Code in schools.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) wrote to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson following numerous reports of worrying incidents taking place in rural areas as the country emerges from the Covid-19 crisis.

Issues range from fly-tipping, littering, trespassing, country lanes being blocked, gates being left open, dogs chasing livestock and a lack of social distancing.

The problems have increased since lockdown was eased, with more people flocking to the countryside to enjoy the hot weather.

CLA President Mark Bridgeman said: “The countryside is a wonderful place and we want to see everybody enjoy it.

“But we also want them to be safe, and respect the countryside as a place of work.

“A lack of education on how to treat the countryside has left a generation without a basic understanding of what is an acceptable and indeed necessary standard of behaviour in a rural, working environment which produces food for the nation.

“We all have a part of to play in improving that understanding, but help in the classroom would be a great start.

“With the recent problems arising, including the tragic death of another walker attacked by cattle, we strongly believe this is the right time to get the Countryside Code into classrooms.

“There is an opportunity for lessons to be learned from the crisis.

“It is imperative we set standards and expectations, while promoting an ethos of respect for the countryside in schools up and down the country emphasising the impact it plays in children’s health, wellbeing and attainment.”

The CLA was also concerned by reports of disposable barbecues in rural areas catching fire and destroying land and habitat.

It argued that reducing the risk of wildfires was key at this time of year, and raising awareness in schools was one way the risk can be reduced.

In his letter to Mr Williamson, Mr Bridgeman suggested that many visitors were visiting and exploring the countryside for the first time.

He wrote: “This is both pleasing and a concern, in view of the sharp increase in inappropriate behaviour by members of the public. The CLA is promoting the Countryside Code on social media and has issued guidance to its members on safe public access, but this will not be enough.”

The Countryside Code applies to all of England and Wales.