Coastal right to roam row
THE GOVERNMENT seems set to walk into another "right to roam" row - which caused much bitterness in areas like the Yorkshire Dales - over it plans to develop a 3,000 mile right-of-way around the English coastline.
The newly-created quango Natural England issued its plans under a coastal access review on Tuesday but organisations representing wildlife conservationists, farmers and landowners issued strong objections yesterday.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds demanded that breeding grounds for rare seabirds should be excluded from public access and the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) complained that the initial proposals did not suggest any compensation for landowners, hoteliers and private property owners whose land would be opened up.
Tellingly, the CLA also doubted that opening the coast would cost a mere £5 million a year, Natural England's estimate, with a reference to the chaos which resulted when the original right to roam act was drawn up to cover inland routes popular with ramblers. In that case, the original budgets forecasts over-ran by millions.
That led to two years of bitter in-fighting and legal actions over wrongly drawn-up maps and suggestions that landowners could be sued if walkers injured themselves on their land - an issue of great concern in areas like the Yorkshire Dales, with its steep cliffs, fast-flowing rivers and hidden potholes.