The Ramblers feared the England Coast Path had been 'left in the cold'

The Ramblers feared the England Coast Path had been 'left in the cold'

A Westminster environment minister has pledged that cash for the England Coast Path is safe.

Rory Stewart, parliamentary under-secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told an MP funding for completing the 4,345km (2,700-mile) path would be protected.

Responding to a written question by Bristol East Labour MP Kerry McCarthy, Mr Stewart said: “The Government has announced Defra’s capital allocation for the next five years, and funding to complete the coastal path around England by 2020 will be protected.

“When complete, the path will be one of longest coastal walking routes in the world at around 2,700 miles in length.

“We will publish the detailed allocation of funding in the Department’s Main Estimate early next year.”

Last week, the Ramblers, Britain’s biggest walkers’ charity, expressed concern that the project was in jeopardy following George Osborne’s autumn statement. Defra said funding for England’s national parks, public forests and areas of outstanding natural beauty would be protected.

Ramblers director of advocacy and engagement Nicky Philpott said: “While we’re very pleased to see that funding for national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty and our public forests has been protected, we do have concerns that other areas have been left out in the cold.

“Despite our best efforts, the Chancellor has still not given any assurances for the completion of the England Coast Path, which will be a vital new national asset.

“Natural England, the agency responsible for the creation of the path, faces a difficult task as they endure further stiff budget cuts. We will continue to champion the completion of this much treasured path and watch any developments closely.”

In December last year, the then Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said more than £5m would be spent on completing the England Coast Path 10 years earlier than the coalition Government originally planned. He said work should be complete by 2020.

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