Ahoy! Coastal access volunteers needed

Posted by Tina Gardner on 21/04/2010
Volunteer for your coast

The BMC is looking for people who love their coastline to volunteer to represent local climbers and walkers, whilst the Marine and Coastal Access Act is implemented around England.

After years of campaigning, the BMC welcomed the Act, which received Royal Assent in November. The Act will ensure the creation of better coastal access, with a new right to walk along England’s coastline and will provide a permanent right of access to a coastal margin around the coast (including beaches and cliffs). 

The creation of the coastal path and associated coastal margin are expected to take up to ten years to implement and is likely to cost £50m.  The legislation will be implemented by Natural England who will propose a series of long-distance routes around the coast of England and decide on the location of a margin of land to which the public will have access.  This will be done in consultation with local people, and local access authorities. 

The margin of land to be included under the new right of access will include;
• land two metres either side of the line of the route
• all land to the seaward side (including dunes and cliffs)
• classic coastal land features such as cliffs and dunes on the landward side of the route to take the access land up to a suitable boundary (such as a fence) or other physical feature – but this isn’t guaranteed.  There are numerous coastal features that currently lie on the landward side of the potential coastal route that offer significant recreational opportunities and it is essential that these are included within the new right.

Natural England will consult widely on the implications of putting the route in a particular place.  It is more important then ever that BMC members get involved at a local level to ensure that the proposed route and access to a margin of land includes all of the coastal land type features that are so important to us.  Access to our sea cliffs is already well established but this could change at any time and at the discretion of the landowner.  This is our only chance to ensure that our voice is heard at a local level and our sea cliffs as well as favorite coastal walks are included within this new right of access – particularly those coastal features that are set back from the current coastline. 

Implementation of the coastal path will begin along a stretch of coast at Weymouth, Dorset, ahead of the 2010 Olympics and further implementation in 2011 will take place across Cumbria, Yorkshire, Norfolk and Somerset.

We are looking for access volunteers to represent their stretch of the coast in England and to work with BMC head office and local authorities on the ground to ensure the users’ voice is heard.  The BMC and Ramblers are currently putting together a Coastal Access Volunteer Guidance pack and will be running a number of workshops around the country to inform members of the new legislation and how they can get involved.  If you are interested or wish to know more, please contact Cath on 0161 438 3333 or Cath@thebmc.co.uk.
 



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