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Coastal Areas

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 21st May 2007.

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Photo of Elliot Morley Elliot Morley Labour, Scunthorpe

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the contribution to the rural economy of coastal walking routes and national trails.

Photo of Barry Gardiner Barry Gardiner Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Biodiversity, Landscape and Rural Affairs)

Research carried out during 2004-05 for the Countryside Agency (now part of Natural England) estimates that 12 million visits are paid to the National Trail network in England each year. In 2003, the Countryside Agency and the South West of England Regional Development Agency commissioned research to mark the Silver Jubilee of the 630 mile long South West Coastal Path. The principal aim of the research was to assess the economic value of the Path. The results of the research indicated that the Path generated about £307 million a year for the region's economy.

We are currently considering Natural England's report on coastal access and will shortly launch a public consultation document inviting views on ways for improving access. On the same day, we will publish a partial regulatory impact assessment and the research study which we commissioned looking at the benefits and costs of each of the options. The research includes an assessment of the benefits to local economies and levels of expenditure by people using a number of the national trails.

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