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Stackyard News Sep 2012

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Natural England Must Follow Defra Advice on Coastal Access

The CLA in the North says Natural England must stick to Defra’s recommendations when rolling out coastal access in Cumbria and Durham so the problems experienced by landowners in the first phase are not repeated.

photo © Jennifer MacKenzie

Pebble beach

The Association said the recently launched review of the first three years of the Coastal Access Scheme by Natural England could be an opportunity to put right issues identified by Defra, after the process at Weymouth Bay, Dorset, as well as take on board recommendations from local landowners in the North.

CLA North Regional Director Dorothy Fairburn said: “Coastal access at Weymouth comprises just 20 miles and took three years to implement when it was already well-served by the exemplary South West Coast Path.

“This review is an opportunity for Natural England to take into account landowners’ concerns about the impact of coastal access on their land and businesses, which were raised as part of the recent consultations in the North East and North West.

“It is unreasonable to expect private landowners to bear the cost for the maintenance of large swathes of land, including important features such as steps to beaches, when the benefit is for the public.”

Miss Fairburn said Natural England must follow Defra’s “Lessons Learned” review of coastal access at Weymouth which says landowners’ concerns must be taken into account; existing paths are used rather than wasting public money duplicating paths and spreading room must not be designated if the landowner is unhappy about it.

She added: “It is inexplicable why the Government persists with this flawed English coastal access model and does not adopt the one that has been so successful in Wales. In almost the time it has taken to deliver 20 miles of coastal access in Weymouth, the Welsh Government, working with local landowners and local authorities, has delivered 870 miles of coastal access.”

The CLA in the North has previously branded the Government's plan to create a new England Coast Path section between Durham, Hartlepool and Sunderland in the North East and between Allonby and Whitehaven in the North West as a waste of public money because adequate access is already provided.

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