Landowners have said the Government has used public money unnecessarily to replicate access to the coast that already existed as Natural England announces that work is officially underway along every stretch of the England Coast Path.
The CLA which represents landowners who own the private land affected by the route says access was already provided before Natural England began the project in 2009. It suggests the millions of pounds spent on delivery would have been better channelled to improving facilities already on the established coastal paths.
CLA President Ross Murray said: “It is disappointing that the Government is spending so much time and public money unnecessarily on a project which largely replicates existing access to the coast. The money is being spent to solve a problem which didn’t exist in the first place.
“There was already access to 84% of the coast before Natural England began the project and as the rollout is showing, access to the rest is often not possible because of crucial conservation sites, ports, harbours or military bases. If the Government wanted to spend money on the coast it would have been better allocated to improving maintenance, signs, toilets and car parks on already established paths.
“Natural England’s reassessment of existing access is unnecessary. A path is a path. We would urge the Government to follow the coastal access model successfully delivered in Wales which achieved an 870-mile complete coast path in a shorter timescale and at a cost of less than £10 million to the taxpayer.”