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England Coast Path Gathers Pace 

Coastal Sign Natural England will be contacting affected clubs as the route around the English coast is decided.

Work is underway on the development of the England Coast Path - a new 2,700 mile National Trail around all of England’s coast. For the first time people will have the right of access around our coast. This includes – where appropriate – any land, other than the trail itself, which forms part of the coastal margin and which has public rights of access along the way.

Progress so far

This coastal path was a key Government objective when the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 was enacted and implementation has now begun in earnest. 

Natural England is currently working on over 1,500 miles of the English coast and has opened 159 miles around the country, the most recent being a stretch from Brean Down to Minehead in Somerset. The whole trail will be completed by the end of 2020.  You can follow the progress of the path here.

Striking a balance

The process of establishing a new stretch of coast path is outlined here. Of particular interest to clubs is that boat yards, sailing clubs and other facilities on the coast will all be contacted by Natural England directly, (as are all landowners and occupiers with an interest in the coast), in order to discuss the most appropriate route for the new trail and any concerns about the new access rights.

Natural England proposes that where they meet statutory criteria the coast path will usually follow existing walked routes, which might include a mixture of sections with an existing public right of way interspersed with sections without.  

Natural England is required to strike a fair balance between the interests of the public in having rights of access and the interests of those who own and use land over which the trail passes. That said, it is unlikely that the new rights will impact directly on boat yards and sailing clubs, as the route will often be aligned to the landward side while buildings and their immediately surrounding land are not affected by the legislation, unless there is an existing public right of way.

Getting involved

Natural England will write to affected clubs to set up a meeting and site visit in order to discuss any potential options for the walking route and the adjoining margin in your club’s locality. It will be an important opportunity for you to explain to Natural England any issues or concerns you may have.

For further information, or if your club has any concerns during this process, please contact the RYA at environment@rya.org.uk

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