THE first Essex sections of the much-anticipated England Coastal Path (ECP) are being considered for development by the county council’s public rights of way team, working in conjunction with their counterparts at Natural England.
The ECP is a new national trail around all of England’s coast.
In Essex it will initially improve access to 190 miles of the county’s coastline between Harwich and Burnham on Crouch, including 12 miles around Mersea Island.
Public rights of way officers from Essex County Council will accompany Natural England on site visits, providing expert local knowledge and advising on route options.
Development work is starting this month on the first six stretches:
Burnham-on-Crouch to Maldon
Maldon to Salcott
Salcott to Jaywick
Jaywick to Harwich
Harwich to Shotley Gate
The Essex coastline has been split into ten stretches, with the final ECP section, ending at Tilbury, being in place by 2020. At 350 miles, Essex has the longest coastline of any English county.
Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Cllr Rodney L Bass said: “For the first time people will have the right of access around all our open coast including, where appropriate, any land, other than the trail itself, which forms part of the coastal margin and has public rights of access along the way.
“Each stretch of the path will be designed and implemented through local consultation in order to strike a fair balance between the interests of the public having rights of access over coastal land and the interests of affected land owners, as well as to ensure the natural environment is protected.
“Many economic and health benefits will be possible as a result of the creation of the England Coastal Path in Essex, particularly the inevitable increase in tourism it will bring to the county.”
Cllr Roger Hirst, the authority’s Cabinet Member for Transport, Planning and the Environment added: “It marks a key step towards the county council’s aim of working towards the delivery of a comprehensive path around the Essex coastline and estuary. People should have the opportunity to enjoy one of the counties great treasures and enhancing the access to Essex residents and visitors can only be a positive."
Aidan Lonergan, Area Manager for Natural England said: “We are creating a walking route where visitors can enjoy some of the most scenic, invigorating and dramatic landscapes that Essex has to offer.”
Work carried out by ECC in preparation and implementation of the ECP will be fully funded by Natural England.