Last week that the then-Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at DEFRA, Richard Benyon, announced that he’d look again at the case for not-excluding the Isle of Wight from the National Coastal Path scheme.
Since then he was shuffled out of this position, during yesterday’s Government reshuffle.
This morning we received the reaction below from the Island’s branch of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA). It’s in their words – Ed.
The CLA today (Tuesday 8 October) said the decision to exclude the Isle of Wight from the all-England coastal path should not be reconsidered.
It is understood that Defra is considering further consultation on the access provisions of the Marine and Coastal Access Act following objections from the Ramblers Association.
The CLA believes a formal scheme of access under the Act would simply result in a great deal of duplication and unnecessary expense, with no guarantee that the final outcome would provide access better than what already exists.
“Island already has an excellent coastal path”
CLA Isle of Wight director Belinda Walters said: “The Island already has an excellent coastal path of around 67 miles. To extend the coastal access provisions under the Marine and Coastal Access Act would result in Natural England duplicating that existing work.
“Clearly, following the first consultation, the Government decided that, in these times of financial restraint, there was better use of public money than spending it replicating something we already have. We are therefore disappointed that this issue is to go to consultation again which is a waste of public money.”
Mrs Walters: “Significant economic gain”, very much overstated
Mrs Walters added: “Claims that there will be significant economic gain following increased coastal access are very much overstated.
Concern that impact could be detrimental
“The Isle of Wight is already well served with a significant rights of way network and open recreational space. We are concerned that the impact on environmentally sensitive and historic landscapes and tourism and agricultural businesses could be detrimentally impacted by a new trail under the new legislation and the introduction of spreading room.
“We encourage landowners to work with the local authority on voluntary agreements that enhance the existing coastal access on the Island resulting in a locally managed solution. If Defra is to run a second consultation, the CLA will be responding on the basis that the Isle of Wight does not need a formal scheme of coastal access and that access should be provided along the lines of the Welsh model.”