£80,000 plan revealed for new coast path from Felixstowe Ferry to Bawdsey
- Credit: RICHARD CORNWELL
Proposals have been put forward to create a continuous path around the beautiful Deben estuary from Felixstowe Ferry to Bawdsey.
The 41 kilometre project is part of the England Coast Path plan - a Government venture to create a long-distance walking trail around the entire country's coast - and will cost around £80,000.
The money will be spent on a range of measures such as screening to protect sensitive bird sites, fencing, bridges, gates, signs, waymarking and interpretation panels to help visitors understand the landscape.
Natural England said while 80% of the route currently exists, there are significant gaps which need to be addressed.
It has been working with landowners, town, parish and county councils, and bodies such as the River Deben Association and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to identify issues and how the trail can be completed.
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The Deben estuary sits entirely in the AONB, has more than 40% of the remaining saltmarsh in Suffolk, is home to more than 150 species of birds including sensitive species such as dark-bellied Brent geese and avocets, and also exciting landscape including 60 million year old cliffs near Ramsholt where fossils of unusual species have been found.
Natural England said: "At present approximately 80% of the estuary is served by shoreline public rights of way (PRoW).
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"There is, however, currently no public access directly linking Waldringfield and Martlesham Creek, a small gap in provision at Sutton and a large gap in access of approximately 4.5 km between Ramsholt and Bawdsey."
The aim is to create new sections of coastal path in strategic places to link existing coastal paths into a continuous route along the stretch of coast for the first time. There will be secure statutory rights of public access to most areas of beach, cliff and other coastal land, and the coastal path would be able to ‘roll-back’ as the cliffs erode or slip, or when other forms of coastal change occur.
Natural England said: "This is a significant opportunity to improve public access to this stretch of coast in these ways, with benefits for residents, businesses and visitors.
"More people will have easier and more extensive access to the coastal environment for open-air recreation, which is widely acknowledged to have significant benefits for human health and well-being."
Objections to the proposals will go to a Government-appointed independent planning inspector who will make recommendations to the Secretary of State for a decision in due course. Once approval is given, Natural England will start work with Suffolk County Council on preparing the route for public use.
"The first step will be to contact owners and occupiers of the affected land to discuss the design and location of any new infrastructure which is required, such as signs and gates."