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  • Dog walking at the Beeches
    Responsible dog ownership at Burnham Beeches
    ​Responsible dog walkers are welcome at Burnham Beeches

Dog Control Orders

Dog Control Orders (DCOs) apply at all times in Burnham Beeches. To help dog walkers understand how and where the new rules apply, signs and maps (310KB) have been erected at the main entrance points and a DCO fact sheet (970KB) is available.

The penalty for committing an offence contained in a DCO is a maximum fine up to £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.

Public Spaces Protection Orders

The legislation around DCOs is currently in the process of being repealed by the government which has introduced a new power to make Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs). PSPOs can be used to address a wider range of anti-social behaviour than DCOs, but includes all of the matters previously covered by the DCOs. PSPOs must be reviewed every three years to ensure that they are still necessary. Please see the drop down menu below for further details.

What are the rules?

Dog walkers can still walk their dogs in all areas of the Beeches, except the small exclusion area at the cafe, but in some areas (see map below) dogs must be on leads at all times. In the remaining areas, dogs can be walked off a lead but must be put on a lead when requested by an authorised officer. This will happen if it is judged that your dog is not under effective control. Leads can be a maximum length of 5m; please make sure that you carry one at all times.

All dog walkers must clear up after their dogs at all times, we provide bags and bins in the busiest locations to help you. Not knowing that your dog has fouled and/or not having a bag to clear up with are not reasonable excuses and would leave you in breach of the DCO.

Finally, each dog walker can bring a maximum of four dogs onto the Beeches at one time.

Why are Dog Control Orders needed?

​Burnham Beeches is a nature reserve of local, national and international importance, with around 585,000 visits per year and around 40% of these visits are to walk one or more dogs. The City has to balance the needs of all users of the site, be they walkers, cyclists, picnickers, horse riders or dog walkers.

A Dog Management Strategy (830KB) has been produced which gives more detail about why DCOs are needed and how they will be implemented.

This is supported by several documents including:

The DEFRA website includes guidance on DCOs.

Dog Control Order legal documents

​The formal notice (125KB) advertising when the DCOs came into force was published on this page in local papers and on site on 12 November 2014.

There are five individual orders (245KB) which have been grouped into one document for viewing.

Frequently asked questions

​What is a Dog Control Order?

The Dog Control Orders come under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005. Under this act, primary and secondary authorities have powers to make dog control orders; the City of London has secondary authority status at Burnham Beeches. The DCO regulations provide for five offences which may be prescribed in a dog control order (see individual orders above).

Why did the City of London introduce them?

The Beeches has 585,000 visits per year with the estimated total number of dog visits being around 220,000 or 1000 dog visits per hectare per year. Buckinghamshire provides an average of 1.23 hectares of green space for each dog in the county – in other words Burnham Beeches welcomes approx. 1500 more dogs per hectare than is the average for Buckinghamshire. We welcome dog walkers but we have to consider their impact on the reserve: we have to balance their needs with those of all visitors (whether cyclist, horse rider, nature watcher, picnicker or runner) and with the needs of the wildlife. Voluntary codes brought in over the past 10 to 20 years failed to ensure this balance was maintained, making the introduction of DCOs essential to minimise the detrimental impacts.

Will dogs have to be on leads at all times?

No, in the area covered by schedule three, dogs can be walked off a lead across 220 acres of the Beeches unless you are directed otherwise by a Ranger. Our research shows that this is three times larger than the area required by an average dog walk in the Beeches and provides plenty of space to ensure the health and mental wellbeing of your dogs. When off a lead, dogs must be kept under effective control - as has always been the case in the Beeches. However, in the area covered by schedule two dogs must be on a lead at all times.

How were the 'on' and 'off-lead' areas decided on?

The on-lead area had to be of sufficient size to achieve a benefit for the wildlife whilst balancing these needs with those of dog walkers and non-dog walkers. There also had to be an obvious boundary between areas where dogs could be walked on or off-leads so the internal roads were chosen to mark this.

My dog is full of energy and needs to run around, what should I do?

The same rules apply under DCOs as existed beforehand; dogs must be under effective control at all times. This means in sight at all times and returning immediately when called or on a lead. If you can follow this rule you can walk your dog off a lead in area three, which is 220 acres and includes the areas where most people arrive at the site.

My dog is well behaved - does it still apply to me?

Yes, the DCOs apply to all dog walkers across the entire site. This is the only way that it can be easily and fairly enforced.

I am an elderly dog walker with a disability so cannot use a lead, what do I do?

There are still 220 acres where your dog can be off lead, as long as it is under effective control; the average dog walk on the Beeches covers 75 acres. Registered guide dogs are excluded from many of the DCO requirements.

Public Spaces Protection Orders consultation

​Burnham Beeches carried out a consultation on how dogs are controlled at the National Nature Reserve.

The City Corporation sought views from visitors by use of a visitor survey followed by a request for people to write, by letter or email, to the City of London Corporation at the Burnham Beeches Office, expressing their views. Following the public consultation, the Superintendent of Burnham Beeches submitted a report to the Epping Forest and Commons Committee with the outcome of the public consultation process. The report was approved unanimously.

A report which reviewed the impact of DCOs since their introduction in 2014 was submitted to, and approved by, the Epping Forest and Commons Committee (EFCC) in January 2017. The January 2017 report also has an appendix which illustrates the figures and information contained within. An additional report, also submitted in January 2017, considers the future options for the five existing DCOs at Burnham Beeches.

A formal notice advising members of the public about the intention to extend PSPOs at Burnham Beeches has been placed on this web page, and was posted on site and in local newspapers on 1 May 2017.

If you have questions about what PSPOs are and how they will work, we have created a frequently asked questions document.

The team at Burnham Beeches have been recording dog related incidents for about the last 15 years. The PDFs below show incidents recorded between January 2014 and February 2017. For reasons of data protection, some information has been removed.

Data for 2014

Data from 2015 to 2016

Data from 2016 to 2017