Skip to content
Date updated: 12/05/2023

Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) are intended to deal with a particular nuisance or problem in a particular area that is detrimental to the local community's quality of life. PSPOs put conditions or restrictions on an area which apply to everyone and can be enforced by authorised officers. They help to make public spaces safe from anti-social behaviour so they can be enjoyed by everyone. Guidance for councils on the creation of PSPOs can be viewed on the DEFRA website.

Responsible dog ownership

We have PSPOs at Burnham Beeches to address antisocial issues and problems relating to dogs and encourage responsible dog ownership. 

  • Dog walkers are welcome to walk their dogs in all areas of the Beeches, except the small exclusion area by the café.
  • In some areas dogs must be on leads at all times. If a person authorised by the Common Council of the City of London requests your dog to be put on a lead, it is generally  because the dog is not under effective control.
  • All dog walkers must clear up after their dogs at all times. Failure to do so would result in the breach of the PSPO. We provide bags and bins are available in the busiest locations.
  • Each dog walker can bring a maximum of four dogs on the Beeches at one time. Leads must be carried at all times.
  • There are signs and maps at the main entrance points and a fact sheet is available from the Information Point, Burnham Beeches Office, on this page or upon request to a member of staff.
  • The maximum penalty for committing a PSPO offence is £1000 and a criminal record. However, you may be offered the opportunity to pay a fixed penalty notice (FPN) of £80 in place of prosecution. This is reduced to £50 if paid within 10 days.

What is the public consultation?

This consultation is being undertaken to gauge opinion on the extension of four of the five existing Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) at Burnham Beeches, un-amended, for a further three years; and making a minor modification to one PSPO (Order 3 - Dogs on lead on request) by simply better defining who can enforce it, it does not alter the nature of, or area covered, by that Order. The PSPOs are designed to minimise the occurrence and impact of irresponsible dog ownership and behaviour so that all visitors can share and enjoy Burnham Beeches.

When was dog control legislation introduced and enforced at Burnham Beeches?

Dog control legislation was first introduced at Burnham beeches in 2014. At that time, they were called Dog Control Orders. In 2015 the Government replaced the legislation governing Dog Controls Orders with new legislation that introduced Public Spaces Protection Orders. Public Spaces protection Orders were introduced in Burnham Beeches in 2017 and replaced the old Dog Control Orders. They were extended for a further three years in 2020.

Why are PSPOs needed at Burnham Beeches?

Burnham Beeches is a site of Special Scientific Interest, National Nature Reserve and Special Area of Conservation. It is one of Europe’s most important sites for nature conservation. Burnham Beeches is also a very popular visitor destination with approximately 550,000 people visits each year and around 150,000 dog visits.

PSPOs ensure that the impact of dog walking on visitors and wildlife is balanced as far as is reasonably practicable. Dog walkers continue to receive an excellent level of service and over 220 hectares of beautiful landscape to walk their pets in, at little or no cost to them.

What do the current PSPOs do?

See the map and the PSPOs at Burnham Beeches PDF on this page. PSPOs must be reviewed every three years to ensure that they are still necessary. The only proposed change to Order 3 is a clarification as to who can direct dogs to be put on a lead.

How effective are PSPOs?

Since that introduction of national dog control legislation at Burnham Beeches, annual visitor numbers have increased whilst vehicle numbers have decreased, indicating that more visitors are arriving on foot, bicycle and on horseback.

The number of dog-related incidents reported annually has declined dramatically since the introduction of PSPOs. Annual dog numbers to Burnham Beeches remain extremely high when compared to most other sites of similar nature conservation status in the UK.

What are the fines under the PSPO?

The maximum penalty is £1000. A fixed penalty notice may be issued as an alternative up to £80

Where can I walk my dog?

You can walk your dog across the whole of Burnham Beeches, with the exception of a very small exclusion area around the café. There will continue to be one area where dogs are required to be on leads and one area where dogs can be walked off leads, as long as they are under effective control. This is the same arrangement as at present under the current PSPOs. See the PSPO map on this page.

Where do I have to pick up after my dog?

You must pick up after your dog has fouled in all areas of the Beeches. Picking up includes placing the dog foul in a dog waste or site rubbish bin or taking it home; leaving the bag at the side of a road or path is an offence.

Why isn't this being done as a voluntary scheme?

For many years, we adopted a ‘voluntary approach’ to encourage responsible dog ownership but sadly the number of dog related incidents remained high, until the introduction of formal legislation.

I am an elderly dog walker with a disability so can't use a lead

We will continue to provide around 90 hectares so that your dog can be off lead. The average dog walk on the Beeches covers 30 hectares. Dog walkers who have a recognised assistance dog because of a disability, are exempt from the restriction which excludes dogs from the café area. Registered deaf people are not exempt from having to pick up after their dog. Restrictions on numbers of dogs allowed and the on-lead areas still apply to assistance dogs.

What impact does dog walking have on the resources available to manage the site?

Each year we spend between £6000 and £7000 on dog waste removal alone. Poor dog behaviour absorbs staff time, which adds to these costs. PSPOs reduce the number of incidents, thereby helping to ensure that staff costs are kept as low as possible. This time can then be used to manage other important conservation and recreation issues.

What evidence is there that dog walking harms the conservation value of Burnham Beeches?

Research from 2017 onwards at Burnham Beeches has linked ‘urban effects’ such as soil nutrification, compaction and air pollution, to the decline in the health of the Beech trees. Visitor pressure is also a major contributor particularly dog walking as it contributes to both soil compaction and nutrification via dog faeces and urine, which are a particular problem in an ancient woodland. Before the introduction of DCOs, every year the Rangers dealt with dogs that had chased and/or killed wildlife on the nature reserve – rarely was this intentional but the impact was serious and highly distressing to the wildlife, witnesses and staff.

When does the proposed extension take effect?

It is proposed that PSPOs will be extended and Order 3 modified on 1 December 2023 for a further three years.

Walking your dog at Burnham Beeches leaflet (1.4MB)
Date submitted: 14/01/20
Burnham Beeches PSPO map (205KB)
Date submitted: 14/01/20
Burnham Beeches dog management strategy PDF (475KB)
Details of the strategy for manging dog behaviours at Burnham Beeches National Nature Reserve
Date submitted: 12/05/23
Burnham Beeches PSPO enforcement protocol PDF (127KB)
Date submitted: 14/01/20
PSPOs at Burnham Beeches PDF (75KB)
Details of each of the five Public Spaces Protection Orders at Burnham Beeches
Date submitted: 12/05/23
Proposed PSPOs at Burnham Beeches 2023 PDF (83KB)
A list of the proposed five Public Spaces Protection Orders to come into effect at Burnham Beeches on 1 December 2023
Date submitted: 12/05/23
Notice of intention to extend Burnham Beeches PSPOs 2023 PDF (968KB)
The formal public notice notifying members of the public of the intention to extend the existing PSPOs for a further three years with a minor amendment to Order 3, stipulating who can enforce directing people to put their dog on a lead.
Date submitted: 12/05/23
Epping Forest and Commons Committee PSPO report March 2023 PDF (164KB)
Report explaining the options available to the EFCC for extending the existing Public Spaces Protection Orders for a further three years from 1 December 2023
Date submitted: 12/05/23
Appendix 1 to EFCC report of March 2023 PDF (108KB)
A review of the effectiveness of DCOs and PSPOs at Burnham Beeches from 2015 - 2023
Date submitted: 12/05/23