Coastal access could be in jeopardy from a Goverment looking to cut budgets

Coastal access could be in jeopardy from a Goverment looking to cut budgets

A member of the House of Lords has warned that the campaign for an English coastal path is not yet won.

Lord Greaves of Pendle, a Liberal Democrat and keen advocate of walkers’ rights, said members of the Ramblers should question Conservative candidates on their stance to coastal access. He fears that impending public spending cuts could see the 10-year project shelved.

Writing in the Guardian’s letters page, Lord Greaves, the Lib Dems’ spokesman on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Communities and Local Government, warned the battle for the coastal path may have been won but it is premature to say access has been secured.

He said: “The framework is there in the legislation but the implementation will at best take 10 years. The way the project is set up means that it will require the continued commitment of the Government, and sufficient resources for Natural England working with local authorities to bring it about on the ground.

“While we were passing the bill through Parliament the Conservatives sometimes seemed both partial and lukewarm in their support for this part of it. The Ramblers would do well to ask their members to press their local Tory candidates on this matter.

“In addition, a Government looking for billions of pounds of cuts may find this important scheme to be an easy option. A battle has been won but I suspect the campaign for access to our coast is not yet over.”

The letter was part of a continuing debate over the direction the Ramblers – Britain’s biggest walkers’ charity – should take. Some of the organisation’s members see the move to an emphasis on urban walking and the encouragement of young ‘couch potatoes’ to take up walking as a fundamental shift away from its traditional campaigning role.

Lord Greaves –Tony Greaves – was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire and has served on Pendle Borough Council in east Lancashire. He said of his role in helping get right-to-roam legislation introduced in England and Wales: “I was thrilled to be able to help to get the Countryside and Rights of Way Act into law and perhaps repay a little of the huge amount I have got from the mountains and moorlands of this country, over so many years, as a climber, hill walker, geographer and botanist.”

The Marine and Coastal Access Act received royal assent in November last year, enabling Natural England to start work on creating a continuous coastal route around the country’s shore. The cost of the project is estimated at £50m.

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