Coastal footpath scheme under fire

A stretch of coastal footpath in north Norfolk is among a handful of national pilot schemes aiming to protect seaside walkways.

But the scheme has been tagged a 'waste of time and money' by a country landowners and business lobby.

A 30km length of coastline from Happisburgh to Sheringham is earmarked for the next stretches of the England Coast Path - a national trail which Natural England is promoting and using the Marine and Coast Access Act of 2009 to help preserve the route.

It includes being able to find a replacement route for areas affected when erosion takes a pathway into the sea. The first stretch of the national path is at Weymouth Bay in Dorset, with work on the next five including Norfolk, Kent, Cumbria, Somerset and Durham due in 2011.

But Country Land and Business Association regional adviser Rob Wise said the selection of the Norfolk stretch: highlights what a waste of time and money this legislation is.

'Almost 90pc of this portion already has access along it. The only gap is between West and East Runton - an area of caravan parks atop eroding cliffs. This is hardly a place where the general public is clamouring for legislated access.'

He queried the need to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money on the project when it would be better spent on maintaining and improving facilities on established paths such as signs, toilets, and car parks,