Section 9 of the Bill aims to impose a right of public access in England on 1,400 miles of new coastal paths, which could pass through land owned by wildfowling clubs.

“The Bill is currently being discussed by the House of Lords and the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) is lobbying hard to make sure that various parts of it are clarified,” the CLA’s national access adviser, Sarah Slade, told Shooting Times magazine.

She added: “Members are becoming increasingly concerned that shooting and wildfowling interests could be at risk. Government needs to outline properly how the coastal access path will affect estuaries and whether or not parks and gardens will be included. We would also like landowners to be given the right to appeal and to receive compensation.”

BASC’s coastal access expert Conor O’Gorman agreed, saying the Bill as it stands is ambiguous and the Government needs to make more provisions for shooters: “It is important to note that the coastal trail being legislated for in this Bill will affect all shooting and land management interests. Areas of land used for shooting contain a wealth of wildlife and it is important to shooters that habitats such as covercrops, woodland, saltmarsh and mudflats are protected from undue disturbance.”

Mr O’Gorman added: “Our lobbying focus has been to protect wildfowling and migratory birds from the disturbance of unregulated public access. BASC also feels that saltmarsh and mudflats should not be included in either the coastal trail or spreading room on either side of the route. Additionally, the public should be legally required to keep dogs under close control when on the coastal route or spreading room on either side of the route.”

It is thought that the coastal access provisions could commence this autumn and consultations on regional sections of coast would follow over a period of several years. Mr O’Gorman urged shooters to lobby the Government at a local level: “People who shoot on the coast need to make their interests known with their local access forum at their county council. This will pay dividends if your area becomes a candidate for local consultation on a national coastal trail.”

For further information contact conor.ogorman@basc.org.uk

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