Labour fulfils campaign pledge

It’s planned to take 10 years and cost £50 million pounds but British people are going to get full access to all 9,040 miles of UK coastline, if Secretary of State for the environment David Miliband gets his way.

As reported in the Independent, the move has provoked a backlash from landowners and celebrities with expensive seaside properties, who will not be compensated.

Until now, the public has only had a right of access to about half of the country’s coastline, mainly along paths, and – despite a popular misconception – none at all to most beaches. People are legally entitled to travel by boat over the foreshore when the tide is in, but not to walk on it when the waters recede.

Scotland already has a legal right of access to its shores, and Wales is creating a path around its coastline so, once the measures are fully implemented, it will be possible to set off from any point on the coast of Great Britain and walk right round it to return to the same spot.

Mr Miliband, whose consultation paper next month seeks views on precisely how to introduce the measure, favours introducing legislation to give Natural England powers to create the new access, perhaps through the forthcoming Marine Bill.