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openerNorth Devon MP Nick Harvey puts interests of business and landowners over those of surfers, walkers and others wanting to access our coastline, writes North Devon author, barrister and surfer Tim Kevan

Tim has kindly allowed me to pilfer from his blog:

“I recently wrote to North Devon MP Nick Harvey asking him to support the government’s Marine and Coastal Access Bill, the text of which is below. As it stands the Bill would help towards the creation of a National Trail around the whole of the English Coast. For my part I hope very much that is passed as it will not only give walkers the right to access coastal land around the whole of our coastline but also surfers the chance potentially to surf new and unexplored breaks which currently sit in front of private land.

With this in mind Liberal Democrat Nick Harvey MP’s response was extremely surprising. It can be read in full (other than my address) below. It said in particular ‘I have been lobbying the Government on behalf of North Devon Holiday park owners and holidaymakers who are rightly concerned about the impact of the access proposals under the…Bill. This has all sorts of implications for security, safety and public liability and has rightly caused alarm with members of the British Holiday and Home Parks Association…Nor do I welcome the prospect of the Secretary of State riding rough shod over landowners’ objections.’

My original message to Nick Harvey MP:
Dear Mr Harvey, I would respectfully request that you, as my MP, support the aims of the Marine and Coastal Access Bill when it comes up for Report and 3rd Reading Stages on 26th and 27th October 2009. The Bill, as it stands would help towards the creation of a National Trail around the whole of the English Coast.We in North Devon understand how wonderful access to the coast can be with our magnificent South West Coast Path. I feel it is important to extend this legal right of coastal access to the whole of England particularly as walking and outdoor pursuits are becoming increasingly popular….and revenue generating. Thank you for your time. Yours sincerely, Tim Kevan”

If the supposedly environmental Lib Dems are taking such a stance, what hope is there for the rest?

Find out more about the bill, which is currently passing through the House of Lords, here.

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