More safeguards needed against coastal access legislation, government warned

The government needs to provide further safeguards to coastal landowners and farmers before it introduces legislation to open the English coast, a cross-party committee of MPs has said.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee said the land owners should have the opportunity to appeal against coastal access.

Natural England, who will be responsible for drawing up coastal access proposals, should also be able to compensate land owners and occupiers who can demonstrate they would lose money as a result of the proposals, EFRA said.

The report, published on Tuesday (22 July), was drawn up to examine the government’s draft coastal access proposals, part of its proposed Marine Bill.

Balance needed

EFRA said the current proposals did not “strike a fair balance” between public access rights and those of land owners and the fact there was no opportunity for formal appeal was a “fundamental weakness”.

Michael Jack, EFRA Committee chairman, said MPs still needed to be convinced that the £50m earmarked by the government to implement the proposals was enough.

“Long term success of the coastal pathway will not be realised unless the government reviews the resources available, especially when it comes to maintenance costs,” he added.

Paul Temple, NFY vice president, said he was pleased EFRA had taken on many of the concerns raised by the NFU.

“If the government acts on [EFRA’s recommendations], the Bill will significantly improve its acceptability to farmers,” he added.

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