A consultation has begun over plans to improve public access along a 57-mile stretch of coast between Skegness and Sutton Bridge.
Natural England is proposing for the route to become part of the England Coast Path – a 2,700-mile long walking National Trail currently being developed around the entire English coast.
There is now a period of eight weeks for legal interests and members of the public to make objections or representations that the Secretary of State must take into account when considering whether to approve the proposals.
Proposals include part of The Wash, the biggest bay in England, where an extra 12 miles of new public access could be created. The proposed route has been developed to avoid wildlife disturbance in sensitive locations, but there will be opportunity for walkers to enjoy the fantastic coastline landscape and its wildlife, including access through Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve.
The England Coast Path proposals are also adjacent to a range of historic locations including land at Sutton Bridge where King John famously lost his crown jewels in the 13th century.
Walkers will be able to stay, enjoy and refuel in Skegness before continuing on the route to Mablethorpe, on a section which Natural England expects to open this spring.
The Sutton Bridge to Skegness route is the second stretch of England Coast Path to be developed in Lincolnshire, after the route between Skegness and Mablethorpe was approved in November last year.
Proposals for the third Lincolnshire section - from Mablethorpe to the Humber Bridge - are due for publication in the summer.
Natural England are also developing proposals for the stretch south to Hunstanton and have already opened two stretches in Norfolk.
Rob Menzies, Natural England’s Area Manager for Lincolnshire said: “The England Coast Path is an inspiring development. Landowners and local people have been essential in shaping our proposals, we would like to thank everyone for their time and input so far. The proposed route borders the Wash which is one of the most outstanding coastal wetlands in Europe with its beautiful landscape of saltmarshes, mudflats and open water. This habitat is one of Britain’s most important winter feeding areas for waders and wildfowl and we have developed our proposal carefully with this in mind. The publication of the report on this section of path opens an eight week window where we invite stakeholders and the public to comment on the proposed route’’.
Eddy Poll, Executive Member for Commercial and Environmental Management at Lincolnshire County Council said: “The big skies of Lincolnshire provide the perfect canopy for a wonderfully diverse coastline. The thriving holiday resorts with their bustling beaches contrast with the near silence of miles of beautiful sand and wildlife rich saltmarsh. There is something here for everyone.
“The mental and physical health benefits of exercise and being in the open air are well documented, so it is really important that we engage with and promote the England Coast Path, to ensure that we enable as many people as possible to enjoy all that is on offer. I am sure that by working with Natural England, we will be able to create a route that works for residents, businesses and visitors alike.’’
HOW TO HAVE YOUR SAY
Anyone can make representations to Natural England about the report during the eight week period. Owners and occupiers of affected land can make objections about the report on specified grounds, which will be considered by a Planning Inspector before the Secretary of State makes a final decision.
All representations and objections must be received by Natural England no later than midnight on March 21.
Copies of the report can be viewed in local libraries and council offices.
The full report, forms and guidance on how to make a representation or objection within the next eight weeks are also available here.