New coastal access proposals for England

Posted: 21 February 2007

Proposals for a 4,000 km continuous corridor of clear and well managed public access along the entire length of England's coast, will be put to the government by a new environment agency incorporating English Nature.

Natural England will advise government to introduce legislation to create a new right of public access to England's coastline. Natural England would then fill the gaps in existing access and make improvements where necessary.

The organisation was responding to the government's request for advice on how best to deliver its manifesto commitment to improve people's access to the English coastline.

Sir Martin Doughty, Chair of Natural England said: "The principle is clear: the public should have consistent and secure access around their coastline.

"Under our proposals, local communities would have a vital role to play in creating the coastal access corridor in their area. Carefuldiscussion with land mangers and local interests is central to making this new right work for everyone."

New income

Rather than compensation, Natural England is proposing extending the use of grant aid to land managers to produce environmental improvements around the coast, for example by rolling back intensive agriculture from the cliff top.

"We think this approach will be a multiple win for the environment, for the land managers who will receive new income for taking alternative approaches, and for increased enjoyment of our coastal wildlife and landscapes by the public," Sir Martin added.

In places the new access right would embrace larger areas; such as headlands, viewpoints and beaches and the route around the coast will beclearly signed to provide clarity and safety.

Natural England has been formed by bringing together English Nature, the landscape, access and recreation elements of the Countryside Agency and the environmental land management functions of the Rural Development Service.

A full copy of the proposals can be found at www.naturalengland.org