Those hoping to catch a glimpse of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Sailing events have been given a boost today after the Environment Minister Richard Benyon approved the first stretch of the England Coastal Path at Weymouth Bay.
The route, which will start at Rufus Castle in Portland and will end at Lulworth Cove, will improve access to 32 kilometres of the British coastline for everyone’s enjoyment and will allow those interested in spotting the Olympic Sailing to do so as they make their way along the path.
Environment Minister Richard Benyon said:
“Opening up miles of English Coastline like this will allow thousands of people to better enjoy this spectacular coastline and help support local economies by encouraging tourism.
“I want to see more people walking in and accessing our countryside as I know the value such activity has for our health, for our economy and for the spiritual uplift and well-being that comes from being out and about in the countryside.
“This will be the first stretch of England’s coastline to be accessed under the new coastal access provisions and it will be ready in time for the 2012 Games so people will have greater opportunities to enjoy the coastline and see the sailing events.”
The Environment Minister was also on hand today to congratulate Natural England who have been awarded the Inspire Mark by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games for its detailed work along this stretch of the South West Coast Path.
Natural England’s Chair, Poul Christensen said;
“This first stretch of the England Coast Path – which has been awarded the prestigious Inspire Mark by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games – will provide a legacy for everyone to enjoy new areas of Dorset’s stunning coastline. We are enormously grateful for the advice, knowledge and expertise that Dorset County Council, local landowners and local people have provided to make this happen.”
County council leader Angus Campbell said:
“Dorset’s wonderful coast is one of its greatest assets. Dorset County Council has worked closely with Natural England to secure the extra benefits that the new coastal access rights will bring for residents, visitors and businesses. An improved alignment in places, coupled with the ability to roll back the path in response to erosion, will add to the recreational, economic and health benefits that the South West Coast Path already offers. We are delighted that this stretch will be established as the very first section of the England Coast Path.”
Further to the coastal access path in Weymouth, Natural England have already started work on implementing coastal access in a further five areas:
Cumbria – Whitehaven to Allonby
Hartlepool/Durham/Sunderland – North Bents (Whitburn Bay) to Seaton Carew
Norfolk – Weybourne to Sea Palling
Kent – Ramsgate to Folkestone
Somerset – Minehead to Brean Down near Weston Super Mare.
Two sections of the path in the Weymouth Bay area will be closed from mid July to mid September for security reasons but temporary alternative routes will be in place and people will be able to enjoy the rest of the coastal path during the Olympic Games.