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England Coastal Path

Volume 589: debated on Thursday 11 December 2014

We are making good progress with coastal access. It has been implemented on three stretches of the coast in Cumbria, in Dorset, and in Durham, Hartlepool and Sunderland. A further stretch of the coast in Norfolk will be open tomorrow, and my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister has announced that additional funding will be made available to complete the coastal path around England by 2020.

I welcome the announcement that funds will be provided to ensure that the path is completed by 2020. As co-chair of the mountaineering all-party parliamentary group, the pinnacle of APPGs—[Hon. Members: “Oh!”] Thank you. As co-chair of the group, I pay tribute to the important and pioneering campaign of the Ramblers, supported by, among others, the British Mountaineering Council, which has demonstrated the strength of public support for this vital path. Does the Minister agree that the path will help to reduce physical inactivity, as well as encourage the local economies of coastal communities?

I am tempted to say that my hon. Friend speaks from the moral high ground, given his involvement in making the case for the healthy enjoyment of our countryside. Walking is a great activity, improving health and well-being, and coastal access will bring real benefits, giving local economies a vital boost by encouraging tourism.

What an opportunity, Mr Speaker! The coastline of England is a magnificent tourist attraction, with the potential to regenerate the economies of rural industries. Let us get on with it: let us provide access to the whole of the English coast, and tell the world about our glories.

I think that that was a question, although I am not entirely sure. In any event, I thank the hon. Gentleman for the sentiment, with which I entirely agree.

I think that the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann) was operating in the spirit of a poet, and we are obliged to him for that.