Minister confirms funding to complete the coast path around England by 2020 will be protected
The Ramblers and National Trust are celebrating the news that funding to complete the England Coast Path by 2020 will be protected, despite recently announced reductions to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) budget.
Chancellor George Osborne presented his Autumn Statement last week, detailing £20bn of budget cuts intended to eliminate the budget deficit. Given the substantial cuts expected, the Ramblers have been working hard to ensure the government maintains its commitment to construct the England Coast Path by 2020, so that the substantial momentum, experience and benefits realised to date are not lost.The government has now given a clear indication that they intend to follow through on their pledge. Responding to a Parliamentary Question, DEFRA Minister Rory Stewart confirmed that funding to complete the coastal path around England by 2020 will be protected.
Simon Pryor, Natural Environment Director at the National Trust, said: “The fact that the Government has stuck to its commitment to fund Natural England to deliver the England coast footpath by 2020 really matters. It means that the most exciting improvement in access to our coast and countryside in a generation will become a reality.
“We are really impressed by the pace at which Natural England have been creating the new path. As the biggest single owner of coastline the National Trust is firmly committed to playing its part in making this happen. We will be working with partners to make sure it’s not just a path, but one of the most amazing trails in the world, giving people a chance to experience the fantastic wildlife and heritage to be found around our coastline.”
The new coastal route will be a high-quality piece of infrastructure, linking coastal communities around England and providing the foundation for outdoor recreation and tourism for decades to come.
Nicky Philpott, Ramblers Director of Advocacy and Engagement, said: “We’re delighted that the Government has stuck by its commitment to fund Natural England to complete the England Coast Path by 2020 – a longstanding Ramblers dream. There is huge public love for our coast and we’ve been leading the campaign for many years to open up the coastline for everyone to enjoy.
“It’s particularly fitting that this news comes as we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the passage of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000), which gave people rights to walk over mapped areas of open green space in England.”