In an extraordinary and welcome turn around, the Minister who blocked the chance of the Isle of Wight being included in the English Coastal Path, has, two and a half months later changed his mind, agreeing to take another look at it.
If passed, this could have a considerable financial benefit for the Island in terms of tourism, as well as enabling residents to explore the coastline more fully.
Back in 2009 all of the main parties in Westminster had committed to sign an order to include the Isle of Wight under the provisions of the Act, which made July’s refusal all the more surprisingly.
This evening it’s been announced that Richard Benyon, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at DEFRA, has informed the Ramblers that he will review his decision about excluding the Island in the English Coastal Path.
The Isle of Wight would have been the only coastline in England to be excluded from the scheme that is designed to let people walk along the coast line of England.
What’s led to this?
In August this year as a prelude to a potential Judicial Review, the National Ramblers Organisation formally challenged this decision by the Government on the grounds that their analysis of the consultation was flawed and that the conclusions reached were irrational.
In September, the Government responded to this challenge by saying that,
‘The Secretary of State will reconsider whether to make an order under section 300(2)(b) of the Act specifying the Isle of Wight as part of the English coast for the purposes of the coastal access duty contained within the Act. He will publish his decision and, and a full account of the reasons for it, following that reconsideration.’
The Isle of Wight Ramblers consider it would be an injustice if the Isle of Wight was the only coastal English County to be excluded from the recreational and economic benefits of improved coastal access and a complete coastal path that this Act provides.
David Howarth, Area Chairman, IW Ramblers, said,
“While the Act was passing through Parliament in 2009 the Government of the day, with multi-party support, promised to raise an order to include the Isle of Wight. After four years of procrastination, we hope that the Secretary of State will now sign an order without further delay.”