CLA objects to extension of coastal access legislation on Isle of Wight

29 October 2013

Responding to a Defra consultation on coastal access, the Association said there was an opportunity for the island to provide coastal access in a better way rather than the slow and expensive duplication process currently taking place in England.

CLA Isle of Wight Regional Director Belinda Walters said: "The Isle of Wight already has an excellent coastal path, recognised to provide very extensive access to its coastal areas. It is difficult to see how this could be improved, given that any areas which are currently inaccessible are likely to remain so. Most inland diversions are for reasons of public safety, for significant environmental reasons or because of the presence of homes, private parks and gardens, hotels, caravan parks or other land that would be accepted under the Act.

"To extend coastal access provisions to the island would be a costly and bureaucratic exercise with little real benefit to users. If the Government wishes to improve access, it should look at alternative methods which have been much more successful, such as the Welsh Coastal Path. In Wales - where the Marine and Coastal Access Act does not apply - an 870 mile path has been completed in the same time that it has taken to duplicate some 20 miles of the South West Coast Path in Weymouth."

CLA Isle of Wight Chairman John Harrison said: "Claims that there will be significant economic gain following increased coastal access are very much overstated. There has been no assessment of the economic benefit of the exceptional, well marketed existing path. I am concerned that the impact on environmentally sensitive and historic landscapes and tourism and agricultural businesses could be detrimentally impacted by a realigned trail under the new legislation and the introduction of spreading room.

"Wildlife organisations and the CLA have huge concerns about the impact that bringing access to sensitive wildlife areas might have on the very special environments on the Island, in particular in relation to the potentially large areas of spreading room that could be created. The Island should be allowed to find its own solutions, working with landowners and authorities to come to a locally managed result."