Southend and Wallasea set to be ‘opened up’ by England Coast Path

RESIDENTS have been asked for their opinions on plans to link up the ‘breath-taking’ coastline between Wallasea Island and Southend.

Natural England wants to create a joined-up walking route between the two areas as part of its bid to build the ‘England Coast Path’ – a continuous walking trail around the whole of the country’s coastline.

A council spokesman said the proposal would ‘improve access’ to the Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project, described as ‘a landmark conservation and engineering scheme’, set up to protect nationally and internationally important wildlife.

It would run alongside sections of the Roach estuary and the Crouch estuary.

A public consultation has been launched, which will end on December 11.

Simon Wootton, Rochford Council’s portfolio holder for enterprise, said: “This is a truly breath-taking stretch of coastline which Natural England are seeking to make more accessible to the public, so I would urge residents to take part in this consultation.”

Southend-based author Stephen Neale is currently writing the official guide the new national route for publisher Bloomsbury.

Mr Neale, the former deputy editor of the Yellow Advertiser, was also the official surveyor for the Southend section of the coastal path map.

He said: “This is just fantastic news and so exciting. A combination of Brexit and a legal case have held things up a little bit, but things have been going on behind the scenes and Natural England have been working really hard, and things are really moving along now.

“The walking community is really anticipating this and keeping its fingers crossed for an official opening next year. But this is great news for everybody who likes to go outside. The proposed route would give us access to a part of the river that we didn’t have access to before.”

Paper copies of the consultation questionnaire can be picked up at Rochford Library, Great Wakering Library, Shoebury Library and Southend’s Forum library.

The consultation can be filled out online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/england-coast-path-from-southend-on-sea-to-wallasea-island-comment-on-proposals

*Stephen Neale’s book, ‘The England Coast Path: Exploring the World’s Longest Continuous Coastal Path’, can be pre-ordered at www.stephen-neale.com

Charles Thomson

Chief ReporterEmail: [email protected]