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Fight for coastal access

PUBLISHED: 10:18 31 July 2009 | UPDATED: 11:13 06 July 2010

LARGE swathes of Suffolk's coastline are not accessible to the public, Natural England has claimed.

The organisation has published a map showing parts of the coastline where there is no satisfactory legally secure path.

LARGE swathes of Suffolk's coastline are not accessible to the public, Natural England has claimed.

The organisation has published a map showing parts of the coastline where there is no satisfactory legally secure path.

This includes large areas north of Aldeburgh and north of Southwold.

Under a bill which is due to become law this autumn, Natural England will be creating a coastal path all around England in a £50m scheme stretching over the next decade.

Abi Townsend, of Natural England, said it is “hugely important” to open up the Suffolk coastline to members of the public.

“There is a wealth of opportunities here,” she said. “We have got a real iconic opportunity to promote England's coastline be that at local level, national level or international level. We have the opportunities for people to utilise that for all sorts of benefits for local businesses. It is not just about putting the access routes in place, it is ensuring that we maximise the opportunities and benefits.”

Despite this, Suffolk Country Land and Business Association (CLA) said there is a lot more access available than what is shown on the map. And it claimed that private properties and businesses could be adversely affected by opening up the coastline. The CLA says that for those areas where there is not currently access, there is often a good reason for that, such as overriding conservation concerns.

Nicola Currie, regional director of the CLA, said there were also concerns for farmers. “There is some very fertile land and that is used for vegetable growing and when you are growing vegetables for supermarkets they need to meet certain criteria and they do not like dogs walking over it. These are the sorts of things that we are concerned about.”

In the East of England as a whole, Natural England said there is no satisfactory or legally secure access to about 32pc of the coast.

Barbara Follett, regional minister for the East of England, said: “These maps are a visual reminder of the problems people have accessing the East of England's beautiful coastline. This is one of the region's most valuable assets and our coastal paths are as important to local residents as they are to the tourists who bring such essential business to our economy. This report is a welcome reminder of the work we have to do to get the remaining 32pc of our coast opened up as soon as possible.”

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