Natural England has begun to investigate how to improve coastal access along a 56 km stretch of the South West Coast Path between Minehead and Combe Martin. This new access is expected to be ready in 2018.
Officers from Exmoor National Park Authority are providing Natural England with expert local advice and helping to make sure there is full consultation with local interests during the development of the route.
On 20 June 2017, Natural England submitted a report to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs setting out the proposals for improved access to the coast between Minehead and Combe Martin.
The period for making representations and objections about the report closed at midnight on Tuesday 15 August 2017. The report is still available to view.
Objections are forwarded for consideration by an independent planning inspector appointed by the Secretary of State. The inspector will make recommendations to the Secretary of State in respect of each one.
Natural England may not make any further changes to the report as a result of the representations and objections, but will make comments about them for consideration by the Secretary of State and, in the case of objections, the appointed person (an inspector from the Planning Inspectorate).
The Secretary of State will consider all the representations and objections before making a decision about Natural England’s report.
Stage 5: Open
Once the Secretary of State has approved the report, Natural England will start work with Exmoor National Park Authority and Devon County Council on preparing the route for public use.
The first step will be to contact owners and occupiers of the affected land to discuss the design and location of any new infrastructure which is required such as signs and gates.
When preparations are complete, new access rights will be brought into force along the route and adjoining spreading room. This is expected to happen during 2018.