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Isle of Wight coastal path plans 'would benefit island'

Wed 5 Dec 2012

Isle of Wight coastal path plans 'would benefit island'

Plans to further develop a coastal path around the Isle of Wight could be a boost for the area's tourist industry and allow ramblers to enjoy previously inaccessible parts of the island in safety, according to an expert.

Mike Slater, of Isle of Wight Ramblers, told BBC News that a path which hugged the coastline would be "a real asset" to walkers and local residents alike.

"The Isle of Wight has 70 miles of beautiful varied coastline - half is perfectly good but we have major shortcomings for the other the part," he added,

While the Country Land and Business Association and other landowners' groups have warned that further coastal paths would have no real benefit and potentially lead to damage to protected or environmentally-important landscapes, there is no doubt that the Isle of Wight will remain a popular destination among walkers.

Tony Tutton - property manager at the National Trust for the Isle of Wight - recently pointed to the area's spectacular views and mix of inland and coastal walks as two reasons for its enduring popularity with hikers.

Given that the National Trust owns roughly ten per cent of the island "there is plenty of beautiful unspoilt countryside to explore and enjoy", Mr Tutton added.

Plans to extend the coastal route around the island were first mooted last year, with the Isle of Wight Ramblers Coastal Access Campaign Team suggesting that economic benefits could be accrued through such a scheme.

Analysis based on the economic benefits of the south-west coast path, which generates £307 million for the regional economy, the group estimates that £34 million could be created for the Isle of Wight by extending the route.

Ramblers senior policy officer Justin Cooke explained: "Ramblers volunteers have been working hard to convince the government that the Isle of Wight shouldn't miss out on all the benefits of the English Coastal Path."ADNFCR-3083-ID-801501380-ADNFCR

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