Conservative Environment Minister, Richard Benyon’s department, DEFRA, has made the decision to exclude the Isle of Wight’s 70 miles coastline from the Coastal Access Scheme, despite the majority of the replies to a public consultation being in support of the scheme.
If passed, Islanders and visitors would have been able to walk around the whole the Island’s coastline, on what was labelled the ‘Wight Coast Trail’. Currently large sections of it are inaccessible.
IW “Not a priority”
The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 provided the Secretary of State with a power to make an order to extend the coastal access duty in relation to the Isle of Wight, which prompted a consultation after considerable campaigning by Isle of Wight Ramblers.
The Government decided that the Isle of Wight “is not a priority for the coastal access programme”, suggesting that, “the Isle of Wight Ramblers should work with local landowners and the local authority to see what can be achieved by voluntary agreements.”
Past promise to include the Island
The IW Ramblers say they are “bitterly disappointed” with the Minister’s decision, pointing out that in 2009, the Labour Government, with multi-party support, promised to sign an order to include the Isle of Wight under the provisions of the Act. Showing the disappointment, the IW ramblers say, “The Coalition Government has not honoured this commitment.”
The Isle of Wight Ramblers are to now seek further clarification about the Minister’s decision.
Numbers for and against
The full report (below) looked at 117 of the responses, finding 69 replied Yes (58.9% of the total), 42 replied No (35.9% of the total) and 6 replied that they were Not Sure (5.2% of the total).
More space in the report is given to those who said No, despite this being the lesser sized group.
An additional 2,328 emails were also received by the Government department.
The full response