Public Footpaths

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 14th January 2022.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Labour, Leeds Central

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many new footpaths his Department has created in England in each of the last five years.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Highways Act 1980 allows highway authorities to create a new right of way where it can be shown that there is a need for it. As such, local highway authorities have statutory duties to record public rights of way, these are kept at a local authority level and the relevant date for each public right of way can be found in the definitive map and statement. The department does not hold a record of what footpaths have been created in an individual year.

However, our network of National Trails is managed centrally, and work is continuing to support this network and in particular to complete the England Coast Path. To date, Natural England has published proposals for more than 99% of the England Coast Path route, and over 450 miles is already open to the public. The table below shows the total mileage of England Coast Path opened in each of the last five years:


Miles opened











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