The countryside at a crossroads: security needed for our National Trails

Sundown at Valley of Rocks: Photographer Mike Watson

The South West Coast Path Association welcomes the House of Lords Select Committee’s report on the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act. Especially as it highlights the importance of access to the countryside and the important role England’s National Trails play in the local economy and our wider health and wellbeing.

The National Trails represent fantastic value for money. The South West Coast Path alone generates over £500 million for the local economy with around 9 million visitors to the Trail a year. The South West Coast Path Association is calling for Government to honour its commitment to the 13 National Trails across England which totals less than £1.7 million each year.

Earlier this year an ‘Outstanding contribution to Tourism Award’ was awarded to the South West Protected Landscapes including the Coast Path, National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the South West.

The South West Coast Path Association’s Director, Julian Gray, said: “As a family, the National Trails want to be granted similar levels of security that other protected landscapes enjoy. Our National Trails are a national treasure, vital to individuals’ health & wellbeing, local communities and businesses.”

Since its formation in 1973, the South West Coast Path Association has championed the protection and enhancement of the Trail, building wide community support. A Trails Partnership is running effectively to bring together landowners, highway authorities and stakeholders to work together to protect the Trail for future generations. The South West Coast Path Partnership’s Chairman Ken Carter, said “We hope this report acts as a catalyst for the powers that be to take action and ensure the South West Coast Path and other National Trails are sufficiently funded to protect them now and in the future for everyone to enjoy and benefit from.”

Further reading:

If you are interested in reading the full report please click the following link: 

Is the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 still fit for purpose?

On behalf of the National Trails Alliance, the South West Coast Path Association has submitted evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on this important topic and stated the following proposals:

In the short term, to ensure the future of the National Trails is safeguarded, National Trails ask that:

  • DEFRA upholds the Natural England agreement and commits to an ongoing three-year funding cycle
  • DEFRA maintains the total investment of £1.69 million each year for the 13 existing National Trails until 2021
  • DEFRA provides staged funding for the England Coast Path as it opens: (2017/18 £0.13 million; 2018/19 £0.89 million; 2019/20 £1.39 million; 2020/21 £1.49 million)

And in the medium-term, request that DEFRA and Natural England work with National Trails to ensure there is an effective countryside access body and National Trail Champion in the future.

Published on: March 23, 2018