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Page last updated at 12:20 GMT, Wednesday, 11 November 2009
'Ramblers' coast access campaign

John enjoying the great outdoors!
John enjoying the great outdoors! Photo: Oliver Birtill

Walkers in the North East will have reason to celebrate on 12 November, 2009, as a new Marine and Coastal Access Bill will open up the English coastline permanently to the public.

The bill comes after decades of campaigning by Britain's walking charity, the Ramblers.

According to Natural England 2009, nearly 50% of the English coast has no public right of way, and the public can only walk an average 1.9 miles on the coast on a 'secure or satisfactory path'.

BBC Tees spoke to Cleveland representative John Birtill, to find out how this will change our coastline.

English Coastal Path

John joined the Ramblers in 1992 and now handles the rights of way issues for the Ramblers covering Redcar & Cleveland and parts of the North Yorks Moors:

"The bill should lead, within ten years, to an English Coastal Path with public open access land alongside.

"Natural England has produced an online map showing areas where access by footpath is lacking or not secure, you can see it in the weblinks at the side of this page.

"Locally, the biggest insecure stretch is north of the Tees estuary, and devising a route through nature reserves and around industrial sites will not be easy," explains John.

Industrial stretch

"We already have good local access to most of the local coast south of the Tees (including a pavement along Coast Road, Redcar), but here the new bill will mean greater security of access.

"Redcar & Cleveland Local Access Forum will be looking at making a link between the end of the Teesdale Way and the coast at Coatham.

"This industrial stretch of the Teesdale Way should be more appreciated when it becomes part of the English Coastal Path, and hopefully will attract more grants for improvement.

"The next step for Natural England will be working with local authorities and volunteers in the Ramblers to put the plan into action.

"There will be a lot of work to survey new footpaths in many places!"

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