As a member of the public, owner or occupier of coastal access land, find out how you can comment or object on new access proposals.
The England Coast Path (ECP) is a new national trail being created by Natural England.
For the first time people will have the right of access around all our open coast both along the England Coast Path, and usually, over the associated ‘coastal margin’.
Consultation with landowners and occupiers
If you are a landowner or occupier you will be contacted by Natural England to discuss their ideas for the new stretch of the path. This will happen before a proposal is published. At this point you can discuss:
- initial ideas for the route
- new signs and gates that may be needed.
Comment on a proposed new stretch of path
Natural England will submit a report to government with proposals for improved access to stretches of the English coast. You can see proposed new routes on the England Coast Path: improving public access to the coast web page.
Anyone can comment on proposals, this is known as ‘making a representation’.
You need to submit your comments within 8 weeks of Natural England publishing its proposals on its homepage using the form supplied with the proposals.
Details of your comments are sent to the Secretary of State to be considered before making a decision about the report.
You can withdraw your comments by writing to Natural England at any time.
Object to a proposed new stretch of path
As a landowner or occupier you can make an objection to the report. Natural England will tell you that they have published a report with new proposals and how you can make an objection.
Your objection must reach Natural England within 8 weeks of the proposal being published online. The closing date will be on the form. You can withdraw an objection by writing to Natural England at any time.
Your objection will be sent to the Planning Inspectorate. An inspector will review your objection before making recommendations to the Secretary of State.
Your written objection is usually enough for the inspector to reach a conclusion, but occasionally a hearing or inquiry is necessary. The inspector may decide to visit your land as part of their review. They must invite you to be there when they visit.
Comment on an objection
If the inspector thinks that the proposals may not strike a fair balance between your rights as a landowner or occupier and the rights of the public to access coastal land, they will publish a notice on the Planning Inspectorate website with details of any objections and Natural England’s comments on them.
Anyone can then comment on this notice by making a representation. Representations need to be received within 8 weeks of the notice being published online. The closing date will be on the form.
Read the final decision
Once the inspector has reviewed the case, they will set out their conclusion and make recommendations to the Secretary of State.
If they believe a fair balance has been struck then they will recommend that Natural England’s proposals are approved.
If they believe a fair balance has not been struck then they will normally recommend a modification of the proposals to remedy this.
After considering this advice and all the other evidence, the Secretary of State will then publish details of their decision.