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Marine Bill may cost UK coastal golf clubs dear

25 September, 2008

Marine Bill may cost UK coastal golf clubs dear

25th September 2008

A proposed 33 foot wide, 2,500 mile foot path around the UK, will encroach on coastal golf courses with no chance of appeal.

Farmers and landowners will be forced to allow walkers on coastal land but won't receive any compensation for damage caused by paths, the Government has decided.

The Marine Bill, currently going through Parliament, will give people right-to-roam around the English coastline.

The 2,500-mile route will affect privately-owned beaches, golf courses and farms although parks and gardens will be exempt. The 33ft-wide "coastal corridor" will cost an estimated £50 million and take 10 years to complete.

The Commons environment, food and rural affairs committee had said landowners and farmers should be given a right to appeal if the coastal route crosses their land and be offered financial compensation if the paths cause financial loss.

However in a response to comments on the draft Bill, ministers said it was not feasible to allow individual rights of appeal. The report stated landowners will be consulted on the route of the path and safeguards are already in place to protect privacy and property.

It said compensation was not necessary because the route of the coastal path will be chosen by Natural England in consulation with landowners so as not to cause financial loss.

But President Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, president of the Country Land and Business Association, rejected the Government's proposal that the right to appeal would be lengthy and expensive.

"It is absurd, unjust and unfair that the Government has rejected an independent right of appeal on the spurious grounds that the cost of all the appeals against the right-to-roam introduced in 2000 was disproportionately 'lengthy and expensive.

"In fact, two thirds of all appeals against the right to roam were successful. It is ridiculous the Government now seems to assume its system is infallible."

Mr Aubrey-Fletcher said the proposals on coastal access will be unfair because of the Government's failure to involve private landowners.

"Despite refusing a right of appeal, the Government also ruled out compensation for rural businesses and landowners who could prove they had lost out financially because of the new right of coastal access," he continued.

"It is hard to equate this approach with a Government that repeatedly claims 'fairness' is its calling card."

However conservationists welcomed the draft bill for the protection and access it will give to wildlife.

Joan Edwards, head of Living Seas for The Wildlife Trusts, said: "This is such a positive response; we are absolutely delighted the Government has taken on board the recommendations of the Joint Committee."

In the draft bill the creation of marine reservation zones was not fully committed to.

However the report made it clear that the secretary of state will have a duty to designate marine conservation zones (MCZs), as part of an "ecologically coherent network of marine protected areas including some highly protected marine reserves".

The MCZs will be the equivalent of national parks where it will be an offence to damage any of the wildlife.

By: Louise Gray - Telegraph


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