Readers may remember the piece we ran last month regarding the development of the English Coastal Path. Mike Slater from the IW Ramblers Association has been in touch with more info regarding their campaign to ensure the Isle of Wight is included. Ed
Work on the English Coastal Path is well underway – but the Isle of Wight has been left out. The IOW Ramblers do not think this is fair. We want local walkers and tourists alike to be able to enjoy walking around our entire spectacular coastline.
During the Walking Festival and at the Walk the Wight hospice fund raising event we have been making people aware of this issue and encouraging them to contact the politicians that decide these things to make their views known. (links given below)
Roll back will cater for coastal erosion
The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 provides for a coastal trail to be established around the whole English coast.
In the words of the Act, it will be made up of a path with spreading room, a margin of land accessible to the public for the purpose of its enjoyment. There will also be provision for the path to ‘roll back’ inland to cater for coastal erosion.
Ten miles with no coastal path
Here on the Isle of Wight we are a long way short of having a comprehensive Coastal Path. Around half of the existing path runs either inland or along public roads. More than ten miles of our northern coastline between Yarmouth and Ryde have no public access or footpath.
A study commissioned by the Countryside Agency identified that the South West Coastal Path is worth over £300 million each year to that regions economy. If we pro rata that to the Isle of Wight coast line, a complete ‘Wight Coast Trail’ could be worth £35 million pa for our Island economy. It will also provide additional healthy outdoor recreational facilities for Island residents.
£50m was originally budgeted
In Wales their complete coastal trail has already been set up and opened in May. Here in England a total of £50m was originally budgeted for implementation of the new act over ten years (2010-2019).
So far work has started by Natural England on six stretches of coast in Dorset, Cumbria, East Riding, Kent, Norfolk, and Somerset.
Isle of Wight not included
Unfortunately as an Island, the Isle of Wight is not included under the provisions of this Act. A special Order will need to be prepared and signed by the Environment Minister for us to be covered.
So far in spite of several representations by the Ramblers to Officials and Ministers within DEFRA, we have received no commitment as to if or when such an order will be signed.
The Isle of Wight Ramblers has launched a campaign to ensure that a comprehensive coastal trail is developed for the Isle of Wight as part of the national implementation of the Marine and Coastal Access Act.
What can you do?
You can help us achieve this by using the Ramblers link to send a simple E message to the Secretary of State for the Environment.
You can also contact our IOW Member of Parliament Andrew Turner to make your views known by emailing him at [email protected]