Natural England’s plans for creating a statutory right of
access to coastal land have been sharply criticised by the NFU
as being a recipe for confrontation and controversy.
The Government’s recently formed conservation advisory
body has recommended that a coastal access corridor should be created
around the whole of the undeveloped English coast, other than where
good quality access already exists. It is arguing against compensation
to landowners, despite the fact that there is no provision in the
proposals as they stand for land to be closed off for short periods
- during lambing, for example - as there is under the access to
open country legislation.
The NFU argues that this is the wrong approach, and that increased
coastal access could be achieved more speedily and with much less
controversy and confrontation through local solutions put together
by local partnerships.
NFU Deputy President Meurig Raymond commented: “We share
Natural England’s aspiration of improving access to the coastline,
but we firmly believe that this should be achieved by agreement
rather than by imposition.
“These proposals, which appear to take no account at all
of entirely justifiable agricultural concerns, can only generate
conflict and confrontation, when what we should be cultivating
is co-operation and consent.
“It is a great pity that Natural England should embark on
a course of action which, as they must know, risks miring an issue
as sensitive and important as increasing access to the coastline
in unnecessary controversy.
“We think that this is the wrong way to go and we will continue
to make that very clear both to Natural England and the Government.”
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