The revelation that the coalition government intends to sell the UK’s forests to private owners has prompted the Kennel Club to raise concerns about the impact such action would have on dog walkers.
The Department for the Environment, food and Rural Affairs has invited the public to comment on the plans by way of a consultation exercise.
However, the Kennel Club has criticised the money-making scheme. The organisation has long campaigned for the right for dog owners and their pets to enjoy the UK’s wide open spaces, and cited that land owned by the Forestry Commission is one of the dwindling numbers of locations where dogs can enjoy exercise off their leash without being subject to the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.
In a 2005 agreement between the Kennel Club and the Forestry Commission, the two organisations agreed to work in conjunction and improve the UK’s health and fitness through owning a dog, whilst respecting forests and those that use them.
The Kennel Club has voiced fears that dog owners will not be shown the same respect by private landlords or commercial interests. They say that exercise areas could be limited, dog walkers could be forced to use wildlife spots or farmland, access permissions could be revoked or unregulated car parking charges could be made.
Caroline Kisko, Communications Director for the Kennel Club, said:
“The privatisation of England’s forests poses a real threat to dog owners across the country. The ability to freely exercise your dog in a safe open space is an essential part of promoting a dog’s health and welfare.”
“The implementation of these proposals will put this at risk and therefore have a devastating impact upon the nation’s dog walkers and their dogs.”