Association welcomes plans to improve access to Devon’s coast.

Work is set to commence on the Devon coastline as part of Natural England’s plans to create an England Coast
Path, it has just been announced. The news is welcomed by the South West Coast Path Association – the charity set up to represent everyone who loves the Coast Path, as it will see the implementation of new ‘coastal access’ legislation that will help to improve the route and safeguard its future.

Steve Church, the Secretary of the Association, said: “The announcement made by Natural England is great news for us as it will help to secure the existing route of the Coast Path for the stretches across Exmoor National Park and from Kingswear to Lyme Regis.

“The Coast Path has taken a battering in the past few years following the severe winter storms, particularly in Devon and Cornwall, where the coast is very vulnerable to coastal erosion, and when a section of path is lost, it can take years before it is re-opened.

“This not only impacts on walkers, both locals and visitors, it can also have a huge effect on local businesses who rely on the trade that walkers bring. Once these new coastal access provisions are implemented, not only will the authorities be able to re-instate the Coast Path in weeks or months, it will also be much cheaper, and so less of a strain on their already stretched budgets.

“Also welcome, is that once the legislation is implemented it will formalise for the first time, the public’s right to access most beaches and headlands – whereas currently landowners have the right to prevent the public from using them.”

Whilst there will be some new paths created, it is expected that in most locations the route of the South West Coast Path will remain unchanged. Any changes will be in those few locations where the Path is currently routed away from the coast, but there are seaward fields, woods, or coastal slopes (but not gardens) that would provide a better walking experience. Landowners also benefit from reduced liability for any accidents that may occur when people are exercising their new rights.

To meet the government’s commitment of completing a Coast Path around the entire coast of England by 2020, it is thought that work will also need to start on other sections of the South West Coast Path shortly.

Pictured above: Autmn colour on North Hill by Bob Small

Published on: Oct. 14, 2015