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Coastal Access

Volume 454: debated on Wednesday 13 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what funding his Department provides (a) to the highway authorities to maintain rights of way and (b) for maintenance of coastal access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000; and if he will make a statement. (108875)

Funding for local highway authorities to maintain public rights of way is through the Environment Protection and Cultural Services block of the Revenue Support Grant. The EPCS block provides for a wide range of services. Provision for rights of way is not separately identified within the total.

The right of access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 was implemented throughout England in October 2005 for land mapped as open country and registered common land; some of this is located near the coast. The Department does not fund highway authorities in respect of their powers, for example, to make byelaws or to appoint wardens under the Act.

We are already looking at a number of ways to improve access to the English coast. I have asked Natural England to come forward with advice and recommendations on coastal access by the end of February 2007. This advice will help to inform a planned public consultation exercise.