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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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Plans for new Cumbria coastal path ‘a waste of money’

Plans for a 23-mile coastal path between Allonby and Whitehaven have been branded a waste of money.

The Countryside Land and Business Association (CLA) says the plans, submitted by Natural England earlier this week, are unnecessary because adequate access is already provided.

The proposals would see a new route – the England Coast Path – created.

The CLA north regional director Dorothy Fairburn said that more than 80 per cent of the English coast was accessible to the public.

“In these straitened times when the Government is trying to cut public expenditure, it is misguided to spend millions of pounds replicating access that already exists,” she said. “The money would be better spent on improving the facilities already on the established coastal paths, such as maintenance, signs, toilets and car parks. That is what the public would like to see.”

The first section of the national path – between the Dorset coast around Weymouth Bay – opened earlier this year.

The Allonby to Whitehaven section is one of five other areas which could open up as part of a £50m project. The CLA said latest figures showed it was costing Natural England just over £1m a year in admin costs alone.

The proposals, which have gone out to consultation, have been welcomed by Cumbria County Council with Tony Markley, cabinet member for highways, saying they would bring “real economic benefit” to the area, both social and economic.

Anyone can make representations to Natural England about the plans and a report will be considered by a Planning Inspector before the Secretary of State makes a final decision.

Objections must be received by February 11 next year. See www.naturalengland.co.uk for more information.

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