New sections of Lancashire’s coastline are set to be opened for public access, despite expected protests from landowners.
Lancashire County Council is joining forces with Natural England to help complete the Red Rose County’s part of the national England Coast Path.
New rights of way and improvements to coastal access are planned in five areas: Freckleton to Preston, the Wyre estuary, Cockerham to Knott End, Silverdale to Carnforth, and Overton to Lancaster. The new route will be as close to the sea as possible and it is acknowledged much of it will go across private land.
County Coun Marcus Johnstone has agreed the council will work with Natural England, as long as the agency, pays for the £89,000 council staffing costs for planning, developing and establishing the path and improved access.
He said the new routes would be a natural extension of the existing Lancashire coast path, developed by the council in the 1990s. He said: “This is part of a national project. It will enable people to walk places they’ve not been able to walk before.
“It’s a step in the right direction – something that people have been wanting for many years and I think it’s long overdue.”
But Dorothy Fairburn, north regional director of landowner’s organisation the CLA (Country Land and Business Association), said: “Surveys show the public want clearer indications on maps about where you can go and what you can do rather than more access, which can often have an adverse affect on farmers and rural business owners.”
She said more than 90 per cent of the English coast was already accessible and the £40m national cost would be better invested elsewhere.
The existing Lancashire Coastal Path covers 70 miles from Silverdale to Freckleton but substantial parts of the route go inland, as it mainly follows existing public rights of way.
Work should start early next year on the Lancashire routes, with public consultation promised.