Government U-turn over coastal access rules

Farm leaders have welcomed the Government’s decision to allow landowners to appeal against coastal access rules.

The NFU and the Country Land and Business Association hailed the government’s U-turn over the appeals procedure as a “huge win”.

Meurig Raymond, NFU deputy president said the amendment to the bill was a “substantial change of heart” by the government, which had been achieved by pressure from the NFU and other farming organisations.

“It will give farmers and growers the right to object to any adverse changes to their business brought about by the proposals for the coastal path and will make the whole process fairer.

“While clarification is needed on a few remaining details regarding how this objection procedure will operate in practice, it will make a significant difference to the acceptability of the proposals for coastal access to our members.”

However, Mr Raymond said mapping of the “spreading room”0 remained a sticking point.

“Although a Government-proposed amendment to the Bill means that farmers and growers will now have a right to request a map to show where the spreading room lies, the decision on whether to produce a map in the first place, as opposed to simply relying on a textual description, will still lie with Natural England, which has the job of establishing the coastal route.

“Therefore, we will continue to push for further improvements to the Bill to protect our members.”

Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, CLA president, said the move was a “huge win” for the organisation’s and the industry’s lobbying.

“This Bill is still far from perfect and the CLA will be working with its allies in the House of Commons to secure further improvements to make sure the interests of landowners are protected,” he added.