Coastal shooters and wildfowlers are being encouraged to make contact with either BASC or their local authority to ensure their sport is safeguarded during the coastal access implementation process.

The call comes after Natural England (NE) published a series of region by region maps on 31 July showing that a third of England’s 2,748-mile coastline is inaccessible for walkers. In the first audit of England’s coastline, the maps show that on average people can walk about two miles before finding their way blocked. As part of the Marine and Coastal Access Bill, which is due to be made law in November and rolled out over 10 years from January, NE is aiming to create a continuous path along the whole of England’s coastline.

Simon Breasley of Thyme Consultants has assisted numerous wildfowlers in understanding their rights. He dismissed the audit as a selfjustification exercise for NE: “The coastal access maps are not of a scale to be of much use, but in any case, due to the concept of ‘spreading room’, everyone with a legal interest in coastal land in England will potentially be affected. It is critical, therefore, that everyone with a legal interest in coastal land is guaranteed a right of appeal to ensure a fair balance between public and private interests, and to ensure that the Marine and Coastal Access Bill is compliant with human rights.”

The Country Land & Business Association’s (CLA) deputy president William Worsley agreed that the audit is misleading. He pointed out NE’s claim that 34 per cent of the coastline is currently inaccessible is untrue. “The figure completely ignores the many landowners who provide access on a voluntary basis. When that access is taken into account the figure is only 16 per cent.” Mr Worsley added that if shoots do not speak up now, their future could be jeopardised.

The rest of this article appears in 19 August issue of Shooting Times.

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