A public consultation opens today on the first section of the all-England coastal path.
Natural England, the Government’s advisory body on the natural environment, launched the exercise to gauge views on the proposed path around Weymouth Bay, which will be the site of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic sailing and rowing events.
The improved access arrangements will be the first to be put in place under the Marine and Coastal Access Act.
The plans have been drawn up with Dorset County Council and people with an interest in this South West section of the path are being asked to comment on the proposals.
Ciaran Gannon, south-west regional director for Natural England, said: “For the next three months we are inviting local people, landowners and businesses to have their say on how we secure this landmark route. Their views will play a key role in designing coastal access for the Weymouth area in time for 2012.
“By increasing and improving public access along this stretch of coast, we want to deliver a local coastal access route that is fit for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 and that creates a lasting legacy, enabling people to enjoy this fabulous stretch of coastline to the full.”
The Ramblers welcomed the move. Chief executive Tom Franklin said: “We hope people will get excited by Natural England’s proposals for Weymouth Bay, which will provide much better access to this busy tourist area in time for the Olympic sailing events. Landowners, farmers and property owners have been consulted, and rightly so, and now it’s the public’s turn”.
“The coast has a very special place in our hearts. It’s where we escape to on family holidays and where many of us go every year. This is our opportunity to improve and secure it for future generations to enjoy.”
The route runs from Lulworth to Portland around Weymouth Bay. The next scheduled sections of the all-England path are in Cumbria from Whitehaven to Allonby; County Durham, Sunderland and Hartlepool; Norfolk, from Sheringham to Happisburgh Common; Kent, Dover to Ramsgate; and in Somerset, from Minehead to Stert Point.
Details of the consultation are on the Natural England website.
Coastal access along all of Scotland’s shoreline already exists under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act, and Wales is progressing with its All-Wales Coast Path.