Natural England must follow Defra’s advice on coastal access, says CLA

23 October 2013

The CLA today (11 September) said Natural England must stick to Defra's recommendations when rolling out future coastal access so the problems experienced by landowners in the first phase are not repeated on the rest of the England Coastal Path.

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 some of the many issues identified by Defra after the process at Weymouth Bay, Dorset.

CLA President Harry Cotterell 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.

"Natural England has not taken into account landowners' concerns about the impact of coastal access on their land and businesses when deciding where that access should go.

"Neither has Natural England taken responsibility for the maintenance of large swathes of land, including land which lies inland of the coastal path that includes important features such as steps to beaches. It is unreasonable to expect private landowners to bear this cost when the benefit is for the public."

The CLA President 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.

Mr Cotterell 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."