The CLA in the North has branded the Government's plan to create a new England Coast Path section between Allonby and Whitehaven as a waste of public money because adequate access is already provided.
As public consultation on the new stretch begins today (10 May), the Association says plans by Natural England to boost access along the coast under the Marine and Coastal Access Act are a highly questionable use of public money because so much of the coast is already accessible.
CLA North Regional Director Dorothy Fairburn said: "Natural England's own figures state that more than four-fifths of the coast is already accessible to the public. Of the remaining 16 percent, only half could be accessed, because ports, harbours, military bases or sites of crucial conservation cover the other half.
"In these straitened times when the Government is trying to cut public expenditure, it is misguided to spend millions of pounds replicating access that already exists. If the Government wants to spend money on the coast, then it would be better spent on improving the facilities already on the established coastal paths such as maintenance, signs, toilets and car parks."
A 32km stretch of the Dorset coast around Weymouth Bay became the first section of the new England Coast Path earlier this year. The 34km Allonby to Whitehaven section is one of five other areas to open up stretches of the coastline in the same way as in Weymouth. The project was launched in 2010 with a budget of £50 million. Latest figures show that it is currently costing Natural England £1.025 million a year in administrative costs alone to implement.
Further information and details on how to contribute to the consultation are available on the Natural England website: www.naturalengland.org.uk