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Coastal Areas: Access

Volume 464: debated on Monday 8 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many miles of UK coastline are not accessible to (a) walkers and (b) climbers. (156687)

Natural England’s report to the Government on coastal access in February 2007 estimated that nationally 70 per cent. of the English coast has some access for walkers by right or other recognised provision; for example on public rights of way, open country under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, national trails or National Trust land. However, these existing rights and provisions for access within the 70 per cent. often fail to join up in a way that gives continuous access around the coast.

Natural England’s estimate is that at least 30 per cent. of the English coast has no legal or other recognised access at all. This varies between individual regions.

Natural England carried out some work on issues related to climbing, however no detailed information on the amount of English coast not accessible to climbers has been collected.

The provision of access in Scotland and Wales is a matter respectively for the Scottish and Welsh Assembly Governments.