The BMC is pleased that the long awaited Marine Bill has been included in this years Queen’s Speech. This new piece of legislation outlines changes for managing and conserving the marine environment and importantly outlines a new right of access to our coast.
The Queen delivered her annual speech on Thursday 3rd December, in which she outlined the Government's programme for the coming year. In this, she introduced 13 new Bills including the Marine Bill stating:
‘My Government will bring forward measures to protect the environment for future generations. A Bill will be introduced to manage marine resources and to create a new right of public access to the coastline.’
The BMC has campaigned hard over the past two years for the public to have the right of permanent access to our coastline. Currently, there is a lack of clarity and consistency in access arrangements along the coast of England and Wales. There are many areas that remain inaccessible where public rights of way have been eroded resulting in an incomplete coastal experience. The Marine and Coastal Access Bill will now place a duty on the Secretary of State and Natural England to secure a long distance route and a margin of land available for open-air recreation, accessible to the public around the coast of England. It is proposed that this margin will include an area of land from the coast inland to an appropriate physical boundary – this means cliffs, beaches, rocks and dunes will be accessible for the purposes of open air recreation on foot.
The BMC will continue to campaign for the smooth passage of the Marine and Coastal Access Bill through Parliament and will be in close contact with Natural England as details of how wider access to the coast will work are unveiled. The Bill should receive Royal Assent early next year at which point the coastal access provisions will come into effect.
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