I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this debate on this important and welcome Bill. Its provisions for better protecting the marine environment and for improving access to, and recreational use of, our coastal areas are enormously significant. We can and should celebrate those provisions. In the next few minutes, I shall look at the measures being introduced to enable better marine nature conservation and the suggestions for strengthening them. I shall go on to consider the relationship between landscape and seascape, and explore how that can be addressed in the Bill. First, however, I warmly welcome the approach to devolution adopted in the Bill. As one who represents a Welsh constituency, I think that the Bill manages to provide a coherence and cohesion between England and Wales while honouring the democratic responsibilities of both the UK Government and the Welsh Assembly; my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State was completely right when he said that the bits fit.
On coastal access, I strongly support the inclusion of framework powers for the Assembly; I am sure that in due course that will lead to the creation of a complete Welsh coastal path or paths. The Assembly has already moved forward on that issue through its own coastal access improvement programme. It is right that it should build on that by consulting people and organisations concerned with the establishment and maintenance of one or more coastal paths and with securing better access to land for recreational purposes.
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