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Last Updated: Monday, 29 May 2006, 00:41 GMT 01:41 UK
Call to open up coast to ramblers
The Countryside and Rights of Way Act grants access to "open country"
The Ramblers' Association is calling for the entire coastline of England and Wales to be opened to public access.

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act grants access to "open country", which walkers say should include the coast.

Parts of the shoreline that are private property are off limits under current law and many beaches and footpaths only open at the landowner's discretion.

But the Countryside Agency will begin consultation on how to implement any changes in the law in October.

Controversial measure

The agency, which advises the government on rural affairs, has suggested there should be a presumption the coast is open to all - unless there are pressing environmental or safety reasons for it not to be.

People should have the right to roam and enjoy what nature constructed
Noah Zarke, Midlands, UK

The opening up of new walking routes under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 has been a controversial measure with many landowners concerned that farmland will be damaged and privacy infringed.

The move followed a campaign of more than 100 years to allow people to freely walk across mapped access land without sticking to paths.

The current access area equates to 7% of England's total land - equivalent to 1.6 million football pitches.

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