Hopes coast path will be protected by new scheme

PUBLISHED: 17:45 26 October 2015 | UPDATED: 17:45 26 October 2015

Aerial view of Exmouth Ref: 23-05-0043SH

Aerial view of Exmouth Ref: 23-05-0043SH

Archant

The future of East Devon’s coast path could be secured by a new national scheme.

The South West Coast Path Association says plans by Natural England to create an England Coast Path are welcome, as they will see the implementation of new ‘coastal access’ legislation that will help to improve the route and safeguard its future.

Association secretary Steve Church said: “The announcement made by Natural England is great news for us as it will help to secure the existing route of the coast path for the stretches across Exmoor National Park and from Kingswear to Lyme Regis.

“The coast path has taken a battering in the past few years, following the severe winter storms, particularly in Devon and Cornwall, where the coast is very vulnerable to coastal erosion, and when a section of path is lost, it can take years before it is re-opened.

“This not only impacts on walkers, both locals and visitors, it can also have a huge effect on local businesses which rely on the trade that walkers bring.

“Once these new coastal access provisions are implemented, not only will the authorities be able to re-instate the coast path in weeks or months, it will also be much cheaper, and so less of a strain on their already stretched budgets.

“Also welcome, is that once the legislation is implemented, it will formalise for the first time, the public’s right to access most beaches and headlands – whereas, currently, landowners have the right to prevent the public from using them.”

While there will be some new paths created, the association expects that in most locations the route of the South West Coast Path will remain unchanged.

Any changes will be in locations where the path is currently routed away from the coast, but there are seaward fields, woods, or coastal slopes that would provide a better walking experience. Landowners will also benefit from reduced liability for any accidents that may occur.

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