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Politics | The Prosser Perspective

Politics: Coastal path at the very top of league table

Contributed by editor on Jun 21, 2007 - 12:15 AM

The Prosser Perspective

The Prosser Perspective.... a weekly column from Dover and Deal MP Gwyn Prosser

21 June 2007


There are many great footpaths and byways around England’s
long coastline but I’m sure that the overwhelming vote of readers would place
the Langdon Cliffs and the coastal path to St Margaret’s Bay which runs above
the famous White Cliffs of Dover at the very top of any league table – and
that’s been my view ever since my wife and I first walked the cliff edge path
with our young family nearly 30 years ago.

It’s like a living thing, welcomingly warm and calm on mid-summer days and
wickedly wild in mid-winter with storm force winds sucking your breath away. And
whatever the weather - the views are second to none.

During my ten years in Parliament, I’ve never missed an opportunity to share
Dover’s many attributes with other MPs and over the years I’ve been pleased to
welcome dozens of Parliamentary colleagues down to White Cliffs Country
including Tony Blair, John Prescott and just about the whole of the rest of the
Government's front Bench.

This week I was delighted to welcome the Secretary of State for the Environment,
David Milliband and the Minister for Rural Affairs, Barry Gardener to Dover to
formally launch the Government’s proposals to provide better access to England’s
coastal paths - and what better place to do it than high above the White Cliffs.

We should all have free access to the coastline and be able to experience the
high clifftops and wide beaches but this has not always been possible in the
past. Groups like the Rambler’s Association, which I’ve supported for many years
and local campaigning groups have worked tirelessly for improvements and this
week’s announcement is a tribute to all that campaigning and marks a major step
forward for all of us.

In the last ten years Labour has met its targets in cleaning up our beaches, and
opened up the countryside with the introduction of the ground breaking Right to
Roam Act - now we are going one step further by opening up our coastline with
new proposals to create a coastal path, open to everyone, all the way round our
great island.

In our patch we have better access than other regions but even so, over a
quarter of our coastline in the South East has no recognised right of access.
These proposals will open up every beach; every clifftop and every headland to
you and me and the public at large.

We are an island nation. The coast is our birthright and everyone should be able
to enjoy it and we want families to have safe and secure access to walk, climb,
rock scramble, paddle and play all along our coastline.

The coast is also vitally important for nature conservation and wildlife and for
tourism, so our vision for greater freedom and rights for people will take into
account the need to safeguard habitats and heritage sites. Improving public
access will enrich people’s enjoyment and understanding of the rich and varied
seaside landscapes and environments not just here on the White Cliffs but all
around the country.


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