Coastal access plan ‘a waste of cash’

From the Eastern Daily Press of 28th October ’09, journalist Ed Foss comes the CLA’s comments on that part of the Marine Bill dealing with Coastal Access.

A country lobby group has said the government could save the public purse tens of millions of pounds by scrapping “unnecessary and unwarranted” proposals for a statutory right of access to the English coast. The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) said the relevant part of the Marine and Coastal Access Bill, which started its final passage through parliament on Monday, would be far more costly than it needed to be. The CLA urged MPs to take the opportunity to save nearly £50m by scrapping the contentious coastal access section in order to ensure the rest of the bill can be implemented.

“Access to the coast — where it doesn’t already exist — can be better provided using existing legislation such as the Highways Act and for a far more modest sum,” said Rob Wise, coastal access adviser for the CLA eastern region. “Our arithmetic shows the government can deliver a better outcome for less than £1m, yet the cost, as it stands, will be almost £50m. We are in the middle of the deepest and longest recession since records began. How can ministers seriously justify spending on what is no more than political posturing?”

The CLA said the government’s own figures proved that only 8% of the English coast is genuinely inaccessible. Over 84% already has access.

“Creating a new public footpath using the Highways Act costs about £2 per metre which means that providing access to the 8pc of the coast where access doesn’t exist could be done for around £700,000,” said Mr Wise. “The grandiose scheme the government is proposing simply isn’t necessary — it could better and more cheaply meet the needs of the public by using existing legislation.”

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