CHRISTCHURCH MP Sir Chris Chope has criticized the recent decision to run Dorset’s first ever National Footpath through the center of the town rather than using the ferry at Mudeford.
Environment Secretary George Eustice has approved plans to extend part of England’s Coastal Path from Kimmeridge to Studland east to Highcliffe, with work to prepare the route set to start soon .
However, Sir Chris said the decision to take the path through the city of Christchurch went against the recommendation of the planning inspector who, in a public inquiry into the matter, had advised the way to use the ferry service.
“Now, arbitrarily and without any reasoning, that recommendation has been overruled by the minister,” he told A&T.
“It doesn’t make sense – it’s a coastal path. Are you really going to want to go two or three miles inland? »
Sir Chris quizzed junior environment minister Rebecca Pow on the issue in the House of Commons. She said that due to the seasonality of the ferry service, a route dependent on it would not be appropriate.
She continued: “Additionally, the route around Christchurch Harbor will exclusively use existing paths and will provide significant recreational value.
“Where objections to the Christchurch Port route have been submitted, the route will follow a public right of way and the land within the coastal margin is existing common land.
“Therefore, there will be no material change as a result of the creation of the England Coast Path.”
She concluded: “Overall, after careful consideration, the Secretary of State has determined that a route around Christchurch Harbor is consistent with the Coastal Access Obligation Act 2009, which sets out the desirability of minimize disruptions to the route, and that the proposed route also follows the approach outlined in Natural England’s approved Coastal Access Scheme.
Speaking afterwards, Sir Chris said concerns about the ferry’s seasonality were absurd given that, if the service failed, ‘common sense’ would prevail and users would simply take an alternative route.
“If you can’t use the quickest route, which at this time of year is through Mudeford, you just take another,” he said.
Once established, the Coastal Trail will be managed as part of the National Trails family.
There are further sections to be agreed from Highcliffe to Hythe.