Dorset coast path safe as England-wide roll-out is cut

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Dorset coast
Image caption,
A section of coastal path from Portland to Lulworth should be open in time for the 2012 Olympics

A plan to create a £50m public coastal path around England has been scaled back due to funding cuts, except for a section in Dorset.

A 20km (12.4 mile) trail from Portland to Lulworth should open in time for the area to host the 2012 Olympic sailing.

But five other pilot areas - Cumbria, Yorkshire, Somerset, Kent and Norfolk - will see their schemes scaled back.

Natural England, which is tasked with creating the trail, said it had to re-assess its plans after a 5% budget cut.

A spokesperson for the organisation, which advises the government on countryside issues, said it was continuing with the roll-out in the pilot areas but any further roll-outs elsewhere would depend on the government's Comprehensive Spending Review.

"As a result of a 5% reduction to this year's budget, Natural England has needed to assess the scope and delivery of some of its in-year programmes," the spokesperson said.

"Work at the Weymouth stretch of the coast path is continuing but the [other] five local authorities have been informed that the scale and scope of the initial roll out in their areas will need to be reduced to accommodate the reductions in this year's budget."

They said it was "incorrect" to say that most of the project had been "shelved".

The spokesperson added: "The availability of funding for a wider roll-out of coastal access schemes will become clearer following the Comprehensive Spending Review process, expected to be completed this autumn."

In September, the then Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said the stretch of path around Weymouth Bay would open in time for the "lighting of the Olympic flame".

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