Grain to Woolwich coast path takes step forward
PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 June 2019
A 49-mile stretch of coastline from Kent to Woolwich could be opened up to walkers if new plans to ahead.
It would include sections at Gravesend, Dartford and Erith.
The passageway will form part of the ever-growing England Coast Path, which when complete will become one of the longest continuous coastal walking routes in the world.
Natural England said the stretch would connect the sea and the wider Thames estuary to the heart of London for the first time.
And the public is being invited to have their say during an eight-week consultation period.
The walk would be from the Isle of Grain in Kent and will create an uninterrupted trail on the south bank of the Thames to the coast at Grain, bringing tourism and health and wellbeing opportunities, and connecting Londoners and other communities with the outdoors.
Natural England's interim chief executive Marian Spain said: "This proposed stretch, which will link up central London and the Thames Path with the wider coastal access routes, will play a vital role in helping people connect with and access nature.
"The route will allow Londoners to take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life, in exchange for beautiful coastal havens and remote natural habitats with diverse wildlife.
"We've been working hard with the local community over the last few months to identify the best possible route for the England Coast Path in this area and we hope that people will welcome this exciting new opportunity to access their coast.
"But we want to make sure everyone has a say, so over the next eight weeks, we are inviting organisations, farmers, local residents, visitors and businesses to comment on these detailed proposals."
If approved, this route will become part of the England Coast Path - a 2,700 mile long distance walking route and England's newest National Trail currently being developed around the entire English coast by Natural England.
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The scheme also fits in with the government's Year of Green Action.
This is a commitment outlined in the 25-Year Environment Plan to inspire more people to engage with the natural world.
Natural England said the trail would have the added benefit of linking to the Thames Path National Trail, thereby creating a continuous National Trail along the River Thames from its source to the sea.
The proposed route takes into account the area's important coastal habitats, including Crossness Nature Reserve, which offers one of the last remaining areas of grazing marshland within the Greater London.
Walkers would be able to enjoy various wildlife habitats, where water voles, as well as a range of bird such as barn owls and kestrels thrive.
It will also include views of the RSPB Cliffe Pools Nature Reserve, a remote and beautiful landscape which has a variety of wildlife including avocets and lapwings.
Port of London Authority's Chief Executive Robin Mortimer added: "As the custodians of the tidal Thames we warmly welcome the report published by Natural England.
"A huge range of Thames stakeholders came together to support our Thames Vision in 2016 and this included a goal of a joined up Thames Path from source to sea.
"What a great experience it will be to walk this once completed - and today is an important milestone on that journey."
Anyone wanting to make representations to Natural England about the Grain to Woolwich scheme are free to do so, they said.
And owners and occupiers of affected land can also express their concerns about the report on specified grounds, which will be considered by a Planning Inspector before the Secretary of State makes a final decision.
All representations must be received by Natural England no later than midnight on 31 July 2019.
The full reports and all the forms and guidance on how to make a representation are also available on the gov.uk website.
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