The entire coast of the Isle of Wight may be opened up to walkers as the government looks into plans to extend the England Coast Path to the island.
The dream of walking around the entire English coast was enshrined in law in 2009 but the Isle of Wight was originally left out of plans for a complete England Coast Path. Ramblers volunteers have since been lobbying the government for the island to be included; arguing that the path would bring huge benefits to the island, boosting the local economy, creating jobs and encouraging more people to enjoy a walk by the sea.
Analysis based on the economic benefits of the South West Coast Path, which generates £307 million for the regional economy, suggests that a complete ‘Wight Coast Trail’ could be worth an estimated £34 million for the island.
The government has now launched a full public consultation to assess whether the England Coast Path should be extended to include the Isle of Wight.
Michael Slater, of the Isle of Wight Ramblers Coastal Access Campaign Team, said:
“We are very encouraged by DEFRA’s decision to consult on the inclusion of the Isle of Wight under Coastal Access Act Provisions; it is a key step towards creating a complete ‘Wight Coast Trail’. Our thanks to the many people and organisations who have helped to raise the profile on this issue over recent months.”
Justin Cooke, Ramblers Senior Policy Officer, said:
“Ramblers volunteers have been working hard to convince the government that the Isle of Wight shouldn’t miss out on all the benefits of the English Coastal Path. The Path would not only be a dream come true for walkers but a boost for the local economy too.
“We hope that the consultation will show how popular this path would be and that the whole of the Isle of Wight coast will be opened up for people to enjoy.”
The Isle of Wight Ramblers is encouraging people to engage in the consultation and make their views known. To respond to the consultation visit: www.defra.gov.uk/consult/2012/07/24/iow-access-mcaa/ external website link.
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