Plans for a coastal path around England are going ahead

Plans for a coastal path around England are going ahead

Two major charities have welcomed the news that England’s coastal path is on course for completion in five years’ time.

The National Trust and the Ramblers said they are celebrating the announcement that funding for the project will be protected from Chancellor George Osborne’s £20bn cuts.

The trust owns large stretches of the coastline of England and the Ramblers have campaigned hard for access to the shore. The walkers’ charity had expressed concern that the Government had gone cold on the idea as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs suffered large cuts to its budget.

Defra minister Rory Stewart confirmed in a written parliamentary answer that funding to complete the England Coast Path by 2020 will be protected.

Nicky Philpott, Ramblers director of advocacy and engagement, said: “We’re delighted that the Government has stuck by its commitment to fund Natural England to complete the England Coast Path by 2020, a longstanding Ramblers dream.

“There is huge public love for our coast and we’ve been leading the campaign for many years to open up the coastline for everyone to enjoy.

“It’s particularly fitting that this news comes as we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the passage of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, which gave people rights to walk over mapped areas of open green space in England.”

The Ramblers said the new coastal route will be a high-quality piece of infrastructure, linking coastal communities around England and providing the foundation for outdoor recreation and tourism for decades to come.

Simon Pryor, natural environment director at the National Trust, said: “The fact that the Government has stuck to its commitment to fund Natural England to deliver the England coast footpath by 2020 really matters.

“It means that the most exciting improvement in access to our coast and countryside in a generation will become a reality.”

The National Trust owns 1,247km (775 miles) of coastline in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In England the trust cares for 20 per cent of the south-west coastline plus stretches such as the White Cliffs of Dover in Kent and the Farne Islands, off of the Northumberland coast. 2015 is the 50th anniversary of the Trust’s Neptune Coastline Campaign; hundreds of thousands of people have supported the campaign to raise money to acquire some of the most treasured stretches of coast.

Mr Pryor said: “We are really impressed by the pace at which Natural England have been creating the new path. As the biggest single owner of coastline the National Trust is firmly committed to playing its part in making this happen.

“We will be working with partners to make sure it’s not just a path, but one of the most amazing trails in the world, giving people a chance to experience the fantastic wildlife and heritage to be found around our coastline.”

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