Coastline warning call for Suffolk

MAKING it easier for people to walk along Suffolk's crumbling coast could ruin the remoteness and wildness of a beautiful area, a report warned today.The county is being asked to take part in a national project to create a walk along the whole length of the English coastline, but the scheme is expected to cost more than £50 million.

MAKING it easier for people to walk along Suffolk's crumbling coast could ruin the remoteness and wildness of a beautiful area, a report warned today.

The county is being asked to take part in a national project to create a walk along the whole length of the English coastline, but the scheme is expected to cost more than £50 million.

At present, one-third of the country's coast is not accessible - a statistic reflected in Suffolk.

It would mean more than 28 miles of new paths would have to be built in the county, costing tens of thousands of pounds plus the added bill of compensation for landowners and farmers.

Government ministers want councils and other interested bodies to work together on the venture - with the ten-year aim of enabling people to walk all the way around the coast.

Officers at Suffolk Coastal council have given the idea a “cautiously supportive” welcome but flagged up several concerns.

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In the district, there would be a need for new paths to reach several areas of estuaries and the coast - including on the River Deben, both banks of the Butley River, parts of the River Alde, and Dunwich, and Sizewell.

There would be major difficulties, too, in places such as Orfordness, and the Port of Felixstowe, where footpaths have been systematically eradicated in the past 25 years and all public access is now barred.

The council feels Natural England's estimate of £50m for the project is too low - and £70m should be set aside nationally.

Cabinet member Kevin Keable said the council would urge caution over the creation of additional access to the coastline and sea.

“There is concern that new routes to the coast, and estuaries, from the first inland road could have a significant impact on remoteness and tranquillity, two of the most important qualities of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Heritage Coast,” he said.

“In addition this could add to problems of indiscriminate car parking which is already an issue in some sensitive areas.

“If the entire coastline becomes too readily accessible one of the rare opportunities to experience wildness in the English countryside will be lost forever.

“There needs to be a recognition that parts of the coast are valuable for their remoteness and while these areas should be accessible they would lose this if they were easily accessible.”

The Ramblers' Association has welcomed the proposals and called for a “clear legal right of access” along the coastline but with sensible restrictions to take account of private ownership and wildlife.

n. Do you think there should be increased access to the coast? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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