The BMC listened closely to the coastal access debate in the House of Commons on 26 October as the Marine and Coastal Access Bill entered the final stages of its parliamentary journey.
The BMC has campaigned hard to ensure that a permanent right of access to our coast will be provided for through the Bill. The BMC has repeatedly campaigned for the new access rights to extend from the mean low water mark to a point inland, and include areas such as beaches, the foreshore and cliffs. The coastal Access Duty set out in the Bill will see the establishment of an English Coastal Path and a margin of land along the length of the English coast with a right of access for open-air recreation.
The debate in the House of Commons during Report stage assured us that our views had been taken on board, with MP Angela Smith (Sheffield Hillsborough) and the Minister for the Environment, Huw Irranca-Davies both referring directly to the BMC. In particular the Minister stated that;
“The interests of walkers and climbers, and of the organisations that represent the interests of those who walk or climb - for example, the Ramblers Association and the British Mountaineering Council - will be fully taken into account before any proposals for the route are finalised.”
The candid debate means the Bill has received cross –party support and should receive Royal Assent by the end of the year. This comes as good news for the BMC who have had many meetings with MPs, DEFRA and Natural England and who have prepared numerous briefing papers along the way to ensure the rights of climbers, walkers and mountaineers are realised.
The BMC will be attending a meeting with Natural England to discuss the draft coastal access scheme and how this will be implemented around the coast over the next 10 years.
A more detailed feature article on what the Bill and the new legislation means for the BMC and how it will provide for better access to our English coast will follow shortly.
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