None of us can be further than 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the sea and therefore vital to the public’s understanding of the coastline. Not my words but those of the junior minister for the environment: Rory Stewart. The English Coastal Path (ECP) is a proposed national trail that will be over 4,500 kilometers (2,800 miles) long if, or when, completed. The ECP is therefore very important for many people.
The plan was announced in 2007 to link up 11 existing coastal paths to make one continuous trail. But in 2013 only 20% of the building had taken place.
The project is important for several reasons including law changes which give walkers new rights of access to typical coastal land e.g. foreshore, beaches, dunes and cliffs, including areas where everyone can rest, relax and admire the view. Most importantly the path will now be able to ‘roll back’ as the cliffs erode or slip – enabling a replacement route to be put in place quickly if necessary, so solving longstanding difficulties with maintaining a continuous route along the coast.
We’ve heard that routes in Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Hampshire, Devon and Essex need particular attention in order to meet the 2020 deadline. In addition completion of the ECP translates to local income: people who do tourism calculations estimate that for every mile completed it generates up to £600,00 in the SW England (SW Coast Path report). Interestingly visits to coastal areas generate about £18 as opposed to just £6 to the countryside.
River Ocean, with our partners, will be tracking the progress of this once in a generation project. We’re asking for your individual local expertise/knowledge to tell us what’s happened so far.