Access to the coast

We believe that everyone should be able to enjoy good quality access to the coast in England.

image of the Devon coast

The issue

Visits to the coast to enjoy nature, exercise, relax and take in the views are extremely popular. Yet in England 34% of the coast is inaccessible. Even where access currently exists it is often not legally secure and/or is of poor quality. 

But this is set to change. The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 – championed by us – requires Government to create a walking trail around the coast of England (known as the England Coast Path) and also to open up the land between the path and the sea to give people an opportunity to explore coastal landscapes, including beaches.


Our position

Work is underway to create the England Coast Path. However, until now progress has been slow with only a few stretches of the route open for the public to explore.

Following our campaigning, the Government announced recently that funding would be made available to complete the Path by 2020. This means that individuals, communities and businesses will be able to experience the benefits of improved access to the coast 10 years earlier than expected.

The England Coast Path will breathe new life into our coastal towns, supporting tourism and local economies as well as providing opportunities to improve public health and wellbeing.


Government action

A map has been published showing the Government’s expected timetable for creating the England Coast Path and opening up the coast for the public. We will continue to press the Government to uphold the 2020 completion date and maintain future funding for the England Coast Path. An investment in coastal access is an investment in the well-being of the nation.


Background to the issue

Our members across England are helping to create the path, walking every single mile of coast to help identify the route, working with Government and other stakeholders. We have also campaigned successfully to have the Coast Path extended to include the Isle of Wight. The island was not included in initial plans to improve access to the coast.


Additional information

Full policy briefing (PDF)

The Case for Coast - our case for the England Coast Path (PDF)

Updated 5 January 2016