Plans for coast route march on

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PLANS to transform the region’s coastal route have moved a stage closer.

Natural England has published its final proposals to improve public access along a 34-mile stretch of the North-East coast between North Gare at Seaton Carew and South Bents in Sunderland.

The route will eventually form part of the England Coast Path which will take in the Teesmouth National Nature Reserve and also runs through Hartlepool’s historic Headland.

Natural England says it will provide greater access for residents and visitors where they can walk alongside promenades, rest and picnic while admiring the view.

The report has been submitted to MP Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State for Environment for consideration.

It marked the start of an eight-week consultation period when representations and objections can be made.

Adrian Vass, Natural England’s area manager for the North-East, said: “These proposals present an opportunity to improve access to a great stretch of the North East’s coastline.

“Before the Government decides how to proceed, we do want to make sure that everyone has had their say.

“So we hope that anyone who wants to make a representation or objection will do so over the next eight weeks.”

The proposals outline improvements to the existing access along the coast between Hartlepool and Sunderland.

Coastal access legislation will help provide a clear and continuous way-marked walking route and bring sections of existing footpaths closer to the sea.

It can also move closer inland if the coastline erodes or slips, securing the route for the future.

Anyone can comment on the proposals.

Land owners and occupiers likely to be affected by the route can make objections about the report on specific grounds, which will be considered by a Planning Inspector before the Secretary of State makes a final decision.

Natural England is a non-departmental arm of the government responsible for ensuring that England’s natural environment is protected and improved.

It also has a responsibility to help people enjoy, understand and access the natural environment.

All representations and objections must be received by Natural England no later than 5pm on Monday, February 11.

The report can be viewed in council offices and libraries.

The report and all the details on how to make a representation or objection are also available online at www.naturalengland.org.uk/coastal access