The CLA has said it was “extraordinary in a time of austerity” for the Government to plan to spend millions speeding up coastal access when most of the coastline is accessible already, including here on the Isle of Wight.
Responding to comments made by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at the Conference for Nature that the Government will spend £5million each year until completion in 2020 on coastal access, saying Mr Clegg had completely missed the point.
CLA President Henry Robinson said:
“Mr Clegg appears to be going down the wrong path when looking at the issue of coastal access. While it is right that 123km of coastal access has been provided under the Marine and Coastal Access Act in England over the last five years, he fails to recognise that most of the coastline – some 3,700km – is accessible already.
“It seems extraordinary that the Government has committed to spending £25million during continuing financial austerity to open up less than eight percent of the English coastline.”
Belinda Walters, CLA Director Isle of Wight, added:
“The Isle of Wight already has very good coastal access, including a coastal path around 67 miles long which is signed and promoted as such for Island walkers and visitors. Pumping more cash into this unwarranted coastal access process will be a huge waste of taxpayers’ money.”
In July 2014 the CLA expressed disappointment in the Government’s decision to make an order for the Isle of Wight under the Marine and Coastal Access Act.
At the time, Ms Walters commented:
“It has been claimed that changing current coastal access arrangements will provide a huge economic boost for the Island, but this is simply not the case.
“The sensible option, and the approach that the CLA recommended on multiple occasions, was to work with landowners to create voluntary access agreements that would complement the existing footpath system. This would be a much cheaper process with much faster results. We urge Defra and Natural England to work closely with the CLA and with Isle of Wight landowners and land managers to streamline processes and reduce waste from this point forwards.”