Nick Clegg has pledged to complete the proposed 3,000-mile England Coastal Path by 2020.
Speaking at the RSPB’s State of Nature conference on the 3rd September, the Deputy Prime Minister said:
“I want to see far greater progress in opening up Britain’s coastal paths. Over the past 5 years, the right of permanent public access has only been added to a further 123 kilometres of England’s 4,000 kilometres of coastline, despite the Marine and Coastal Act making this public access a legal obligation for government. At this rate, we will have built High Speed 2 and the UK’s first space port – all before our coastal path is completed. You’ll be able to fly in space before you can walk around our coast.
That’s just not good enough and I’ve been pushing for this process to be speeded up. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m pleased to announce today that the government will be putting the funding in place to ensure the path is completed by 2020.”
Following in the footsteps of the popular Wales Coastal path, completed in 2012 and covering 870 miles of coastline, the England Coast Path aims to create a clearly marked, well-managed route around the country’s cliffs and beaches. Signs, gates and footbridges will be designed to create an easy to use path that, when completed, will create a walking route around the entire English coast, totaling 2796 miles and making it the longest National Trail in England.
So far, only two short stretches of the coast path have been completed, raising concerns over the likelihood of the full path’s completion. Delays have been blamed on permission issues with landowners and the cost (an estimated 40 million pounds) of the path. However, many think that the cost will easily be repaid in benefits to tourism and local economies – the Welsh path generated more money than its £13m cost within its first year of opening.
Simon Pryor, Natural Environment Director at the National Trust, said “This is a hugely welcome step in the right direction and its important to have the Government’s commitment to making this happen. Millions of us visit the coast every year and bringing forward the completion of the coast path in England will help open access to one of the most beautiful and diverse coastlines in the world.”
You can see a map of the England Coast path’s development here, as well as updates on progress in your area.