Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Draft Marine Bill:  Coastal Access Provisions

Report published

The Committee published ' Draft Marine Bill: Coastal Access Provisions', its Ninth Report 2007-08 (HC 656-I), on 22 July 2008.

Oral and Written Evidence (HC 656-II) was also published on 22 July 2008.

The Government response was issued as a Command Paper in September 2008.

Terms of Reference

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs published the Draft Marine Bill on 3 April 2008.

Further details about the draft Bill can be found at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/marine/legislation/index.htm
Further details regarding Natural England's outline scheme for coastal access can be found at:

The House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee decided to undertake pre-legislative scrutiny of aspects of the Draft Bill.

The Committee's Report of 2004, Marine Environment, said that there was a pressing need to update and streamline arrangements for marine nature conservation and licensing for development, and indicated that a wide-ranging Marine Act might be necessary. The Government has now made proposals for a Bill to amend these arrangements.

However in the light of the fact that the Government has added coastal access as a new dimension to the Draft Marine Bill, the Committee believed it was right to look in the first instance at this part of its proposals. In the light of the Committee's future work programme, it may subsequently decide to examine other parts of the Draft Bill.

The Committee invited interested parties to submit a brief written memorandum about the coastal access provisions of the Draft Marine Bill, by which the Government proposes the creation of a long distance coastal route around England, with associated land for open-air recreation ("spreading room"). The deadline for accepting memorandum has now passed.

The inquiry focused on:

€ The Government's vision for coastal access, and the extent to which the Draft Bill provides for it

€ Whether new legislation is the best or most cost-effective means of providing increased access to the coast

€ The case for exceptions to, and deviations from, a route giving continuous access to the coast itself

€ Whether the Draft Bill strikes the right balance between the rights of access and the rights of owners and occupiers, and whether there should be compensation in any circumstances for the creation of coastal access rights

€ The proposals for coastal access in estuaries

€ What classes of land should be excepted from access rights

€ The proposed arrangements for limiting liability

€ Whether there should be access rights for other users such as cyclists or horse riders.

Oral evidence sessions

Wednesday 18 June 2008
Jonathan Shaw MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Marine, Landscape & Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Wednesday 11 June 2008
Ramblers' Association; Devon County Council and Cumbria Countryside Access Board (Cumbria County Council & Cumbria Local Access Forum)

Monday 9 June 2008
Country Land and Business Association and National Farmers' Union; National Trust and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Wednesday 4 June 2008
Natural England

Press notices

22/07/08 Report published
15/07/08 Report to be published
02/06/08 Further evidence sessions announced
15/05/08 Evidence session announced
24/04/08 Inquiry announced
04/03/08 Pre-legislative scrutiny announced