Over 80% of people in the south west and Wales think there is enough public access to the coast, contradicting government plans to extend the right to roam to coastal areas.

The results, from an independent survey commissioned by the Country Land and Business Association, confirm that further government spending on open access would be a waste of taxpayers’ money.

“This survey proves what the CLA has been saying,” said south-west director John Mortimer.

“The desire for increased access is not driven by demand, but by pressure groups intent on using considerable amounts of taxpayers’ money to create more resources for free use by a minority.”

Blanket access to the coast would be unworkable, unjust and would threaten wildlife and coastal businesses, as well as the safety of the public, said Mr Mortimer.

DEFRA should instead engage with landowners and negotiate necessary access balanced against the land use, he added.

But a spokeswoman for the Ramblers’ Association questioned the research, saying that a separate survey in May revealed that 84% of the public incorrectly thought they already had a legal right of access to the coast.

“There is a real need for more education,” she said. “We are looking for more security in coastal access, but do very much want to work with the CLA and landowners to ensure appropriate restrictions are in place.”