They don’t learn. Seventeen months ago (August 2014) and again seven months ago (May 2015) I criticised the government, and the Guardian through its letters page, for underplaying England’s coastal access by calling it a coastal path. I have had to do so again this week, through the Observer‘s letters page.
The environment minister, Rory Stewart, made a welcome announcement on boxing day that work was underway to open up half of England’s coastline, endorsing the earlier commitment to complete ‘the coastal path’ by 2020 and the Observer covered the story.
So on behalf of the Open Spaces Society I wrote:
Why does the government underplay the achievement of coastal access around England (‘Dream of walking all way around Britain comes a step closer as coastal paths open’, News, last week)? It is not merely a coastal path—the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 also gives us the right to walk from the path to the sea and inland to an appropriate boundary, subject to common-sense restrictions. Not only can we follow the trail, but we can stop and picnic, run down to the beach and enjoy the freedom of the coast. A coastal corridor of access is being created around England.
The message is not getting through. I need to write to the minister and copy to Defra’s press office. It was an ingenious solution to combine a national trail, using the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, with adjoining spreading room under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. Let’s celebrate not stifle it.