Environment Secretary David Miliband has unveiled plans for public consultation to provide full access to the British coast.
Ramblers must currently take detours inland, rather than stick to the coast.Ministers favour a strip allowing access along the full length of the coast as one of four options as well as access to headland, coves and beaches so that a continuous route will always be available as close to the coast as possible.According to Environment Secretary David Miliband said, 'We are an island nation. The coast is our birthright and everyone should be able to enjoy it. I want families to have safe and secure access to walk, climb, rock scramble, paddle and play all along our coastline.'The coast is also vitally important for nature conservation and wildlife and for tourism, so our vision for greater freedom and rights for people will take into account the need to safeguard habitats and heritage sites,' he said.The consultation gives four options:* Use existing rights of way legislation to create a footpath all round the coast.* Extend open access using the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 to give access to types of land which are considered coastal - e.g. beach, dunes, cliffs, etc.* Voluntary agreements with landowners using existing mechanisms such as those for agri-environment schemes.* New legislation to allow Natural England to designate a coastal corridor providing a continuous route along which people can enjoy access to the coast.