What Part 9 of the Bill does
14. The coastal access provisions in Part 9 of
the Draft Marine Bill would place a duty on the Secretary of State
and Natural England to secure a long distance route ("the
English coastal route") and nearby land available for open-air
recreation ("spreading room"), together referred to
as "coastal margin".
Within this margin people will be able to walk along the length
of the English coast, and in addition will have access to suitable
coastal land such as beaches, cliffs, rocks and dunes, for open-air
recreation on foot. Defra estimates that the proposals would add
2,300 km (range from 2,050 to 2,560 km) of new or improved access,
and would increase visits to the coast by 6-10%.
15. Under the proposals, Natural England would
be required to consult owners and occupiers, local authorities,
local access forums, the Secretary of State (in relation to defence
and national security), the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission
and the Environment Agency, to
decide the most appropriate alignment of the trail and the extent
of spreading room.
Natural England would then report the route to the Secretary of
State stretch by stretch (the size of area has not been determined,
but could possibly be at county level).
Certain classes of land are excepted altogether from the route
and spreading room, including ports, Ministry of Defence land,
and parks and gardens.
Natural England was unable to give us precise figures as to how
much land would be excepted, and what difference this would make
to the completed coastal pathway.
16. The draft Bill states that Natural England
must prepare a scheme (referred to as the "Coastal Access
Scheme") within one year to set out the general approach
it will take when carrying out its coastal access duty. The Coastal
Access Scheme would have to be developed in consultation with
interested parties and submitted to the Secretary of State for
approval, rejection or modification.
Natural England published a 21-page "Outline Scheme"
in April 2008 alongside the publication of the Draft Bill. The
Outline Scheme set out some of the key principles on which Natural
England proposes alignment should be based (for example, safety
and enjoyment and protection of the coastal environment), and
how principles will be applied in certain coastal scenarios, such
as land subject to coastal erosion. Natural England told us the
Outline Scheme was "a pretty full first stab", and that
the final Coastal Access Scheme would not be drastically different.