Ramblers campaign director Nicky Philpott and chief executive Benedict Southworth whip up support at Westminster

Ramblers campaign director Nicky Philpott and chief executive Benedict Southworth whip up support at Westminster

The Ramblers brought a flavour of the seaside to Westminster to press home to MPs the economic benefit of establishing the England Coast Path.

Chief executive Benedict Southworth manned an ice-cream van outside Parliament, handing out copies of a Ramblers’ report into coastal access and appealing for support from parliamentarians.

The stunt follows a summer of campaigning by the walking charity, which fears plans for a path around the shoreline of England may be put on ice.

It said the 3,000 mile path around England was supposed to be completed by 2019, but so far only one 20-mile stretch has opened.

Next spring will see the opening of a further two sections but beyond that, the future of the remaining 2,900 miles of coast path remains uncertain the organisation said. Recent cuts to the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs’ budget have put the future of the coast path in doubt, it added.

The Ramblers said the Government should make completing the England Coast Path a priority.

The Case for Coast report contains research, facts, figures and local views that prove the enormous benefits of a complete coast path, the charity said.

According to the report, the England Coast Path will boost economic growth by generating millions of pounds at a cost of £1 per metre of coast path compared with £18,000 per metre of motorway.

It will also breathe new life into coastal communities, some of which are the most deprived in the country and connect people with their local environment.

A coastal path will improve health and wellbeing, offering people new opportunities to unwind and get active, according to the Case for Coast, and strengthen identity as an island nation by reconnecting people with their coastal heritage.

The Ramblers' ice-cream van outside the Palace of Westminster

The Ramblers' ice-cream van outside the Palace of Westminster

Ramblers chief executive Benedict Southworth said: “We’re concerned that Government doesn’t recognise the true value of the England Coast Path.

“So today, we’ve brought the coast to them. Our report details all of the many benefits that a complete coast path will bring, for tourism, for health, for the economy and for the nation.

“It also captures the local and national enthusiasm for this project from everyone who loves spending time outdoors.”

“Over a third of our coastline is out of bounds, yet for a small investment in time, money and enthusiasm for our coastal communities, the Government can give this gift of the England Coast Path to the nation, and ensure future generations can be connected with their stretch of coast.”

The Ramblers are pushing for expressed Government commitment to funding the coast path project through to completion; publication of a full timetable for completing the coast path and for the Isle of Wight to be included in coast path plans.

The full Case for Coast report can be seen on the Ramblers website.

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