Hilary Benn, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has announced that the Government will be using legislation to create better access to the English coast.
In his speech at the Labour Party Conference on 27 September, Mr Benn confirmed;
“that we now intend to legislate so that each of us has, for the first time in our history, the right to walk around our coastline from the white cliffs of the South Coast to the wild cliffs of Northumberland.
And we'll do this because access for all is a Labour value, and it should apply as much to our coast as it does to education or our health service.”
The details of how and when the legislation will work are yet to be confirmed but the BMC, along with a number of recreational organisations have been lobbying hard for a coastal access corridor. The public consultation only ended on September 11th so it shows real commitment by the Government to have made this announcement so soon. Let's hope the proposals for new primary legislation set out in the consultation are adhered too, with the creation of a national access corridor which would include access to headlands, beaches and cliffs.
The BMC feel that a coastal access corridor is the most holistic vision for improving access to the coast as it:
- promotes health and well-being by allowing people access to a more complete coastal experience.
- provides access to enjoy a whole range of recreational activities that would be restricted if access was simply given to a coastal path.
- includes measures to improve and conserve biodiversity along the English coast, allowing for adaptation as our coastline changes.
- guarantees permanent rights on foot to responsible recreation for all.
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