216. Much of the evidence received, including that
from local authorities, predicted that the allocation of £50
million over 10 years will be insufficient to fund the proposed
scheme, and queried
that there was sufficient provision set aside for on-going maintenance,
even in the first 10 years, let alone beyond that.
Local authorities are concerned that they will be responsible
for maintenance, but will not receive adequate funding in the
medium to long term.
The budgeted £50 million over 10 years is to come out of
Natural England's existing budget, but neither we nor the EFRA
Committee heard any evidence on what currently funded programmes
will lose priority to enable coastal access. There is no detailed
breakdown in the Impact Assessment to enable us to scrutinise
how funding has been allocated and whether maintenance has been
properly provided for. Local Authorities noted this when attempting
to assess whether the budget would be sufficientas Devon
County Council said "it depends what it covers".
In response, the Government said that that the figures were "robust"
and that it trusted Natural England's calculations.
We note the widespread concern that the estimated funding of
£50 million over 10 years for the coastal path is inadequate
and that local authorities may be left with the significant maintenance
costs. We recommend that the Government produce a detailed estimate
of the costs of both establishing and maintaining the coastal
path, and subject this analysis to concerned parties for consultation.