ONE of Scarborough’s newly elected councillors is warning that public access to the coast could be under threat – because legislation designed to protect it could be abolished.
Cllr Colin Challen, who represents the Castle Ward, said that last year’s The Access to the Countryside (Coastal Margin)(England) Order was threatened by regulations introduced by the current coalition government.
The order gave the public greater access to the coast – even where a coastal public right of way had disappeared due to the effects of coastal erosion.
But Cllr Challen, the former MP for Morley and Rothwell, said that it was now up for abolition. He said: “Many landowners enjoying exclusive access to the coast objected to the order when it was introduced, and others whose land is being eroded may also call for its cancellation, not wishing to make alternative provision for walkers and tourists.”
He added that it was a “hard fought for law” whose aim was to ensure that there was a complete round-Britain coastal path. He said: “It came after a lot of consultation, and was introduced as part of Labour’s commitment to improving the public’s rights of access to the countryside.
“That this Conservative-led government is now contemplating getting rid of it shows whose side they are on. It is utterly bonkers.”
He added that he hoped Scarborough Council, with its obvious interest in some of England’s most scenic coastline, would “vehemently defend” the regulation.
Last month The Ramblers argued against the government’s Red Tape Challenge –which aimed to reduce what it described as “burdensome regulations”.
Adrian Morris, the head of campaigns, said: “We will fight strongly against moves by government to reduce the protection of the environment or people’s ability to access and enjoy it. The idea that entire Acts dedicated to protecting our countryside, the air we breathe and the places where we walk and live, could be described as red tape seems almost farcical.
“Whilst we would welcome a review of legislation which aims to ensure that our environment is fully protected and can be enjoyed by all more easily – the idea that these laws could be cut away like red tape with no consequences for ourselves and future generations shows a short-sighted lack of understanding of the importance of laws which protect our environment for all.”