Proposals for an improved coastal access route between Ramsgate and Folkestone are published for consultation today marking the first stages of the England Coast Path in the south east of England, set in motion by the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.
Natural England has published draft proposals for an enhanced walking route to be created along 60km of coast to provide improved levels of access for local residents and visitors where they can walk, rest and admire the view
The proposed route will run close to some of Kent’s most populated areas, including the towns of Sandwich, Deal and Dover and passes through a variety of coastal habitats and cliff scenery. Coastal Access legislation will enable the footpath to automatically move inland or ‘roll back’, if the route is lost to erosion for example, which means that the new route would be secure into the future.
Natural England and Kent County Council have met landowners to ‘walk the course’ and discuss where the new route could go. Discussions have also been held with other interested groups and stakeholders. Draft proposals for the route are now open to everyone for formal consultation and Natural England invites comments from all interested parties including farmers, residents, businesses and people who use the area for recreation. Feedback will help to shape the final proposals for the route and ensure that local issues are addressed.
Copies of the draft proposals and comment forms will be available online at on our Kent coastal access pages and will be displayed in libraries, tourist information centres and District Council offices along the stretch during the consultation period.
Four drop in sessions have also been arranged for people to meet advisors from Natural England and Kent County Council, to view and discuss maps of the draft proposals and submit views These drop in sessions will run from between 12 midday and 17.45 pm in the following locations:
James Seymour, Area Manager for Natural England said; ““We have had discussions with landowners and key organisation along the proposed route; their input has been essential and helped shape the draft proposals - we thank everyone for their time and input so far.
Over the next twelve weeks we are inviting all organisations, farmers, local residents, visitors and businesses to have their say. It’s important that all responses are taken into account and we look forward to hearing people’s views.”
Mike Hill, Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Customer and Communities, said “Working with Natural England the County Council has put in a great deal of effort to deliver a new National Trail that will show off the very best of Kent’s fantastic historic and natural coastline. When complete the route will deliver significant social and economic benefits to our coastal communities and be a great recreational resource for the people of Kent. This series of consultation events are a great opportunity for the wider public to have input into the proposals, we would urge residents and landowners to have their say on this potentially great asset to our County.”
The public consultation period will last 12 weeks, closing at 5pm on Friday 9 November 2012. The comments will be reviewed and Natural England will produce final proposals which will be submitted to the Secretary of State for approval. Once approval has been received and any establishment works are complete the new right of public access will come into force.
The first stretch of coastal access was approved in Weymouth earlier this year, which was opened on the 29th June and in time for people to view the sailing events for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. 2012 will also see work continue to deliver other stretches of improved coastal access in Durham, Cumbria, Norfolk and Somerset and Dorset.
About Natural England
For further information contact Natural England’s press office:
Emma Lusby 0300 0604231 or 07900 608073
Lyndon Marquis 0300 0604236 or 07786 277223
Out of hours duty press officer on 07970 098 005