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The North West Coastal Trail - From Concept to Reality?Article by Caroline Salthouse, North West Coastal Forum
The North West Coastal Forum is spearheading an exciting proposal to develop a new regional trail.
The trail will be a long distance, multi-use trail following the north west coast between Chester and Carlisle. It will link with and enhance existing local footpaths, cycle paths and bridleways as well as other regional and national trails. It will encourage both residents and visitors to the region to explore, appreciate and enjoy one of the North West's greatest assets; our coastal landscapes, heritage and settlements, and will provide a new regional recreation and tourism resource.
A feasibility study has given the concept a 'green light', but what do you think of the idea? We would welcome your views on this exciting concept, see details below.
The idea for the trail originated with PISCES (the Partnership of Irish Sea Coast and Estuary Strategies) and has been taken forward by the North West Coastal Forum, who, working with Government Office for the North West, established a project group for the initiative. Several studies have taken place and a key milestone was reached on 30th October when the ideas behind the trail were introduced to an audience of key decision makers at the Floral Hall in Southport.
The aim behind the Concept Launch was to build wide support for the idea and implementation of the trail. The event was chaired by Laurence Rose, Chairman of the North West Coastal Forum and Regional Director of the RSPB. The keynote speaker,Terry Squires, Vice Chairman of the Ramblers Association, discussed the economic and social value of walking and the potential in the North West. Nick Osborne, Lancashire County Council, gave a visual introduction to the North West coast, Peter Scott, of Peter Scott Planning Services Ltd, the consultant who carried out the NWDA-funded North West Coastal Trail Concept Feasibility Study reported the study results and Val Hough of Sefton Borough Council, gave an overview of the development and benefits of the Trans-Pennine Trail as an example of what could be achieved. At the close of proceedings organisations were asked to sign an 'in principle' support pledge for the ongoing development of the concept.
A measure of the success of the event was that 'in principle' support was expressed on the day by: Cheshire County Council; Cheshire & Warrington Local Access Forum; CPRE; Cumbria Tourist Board; Fylde Borough Council; the Irish Sea Forum; Lancashire County Council, Lancaster City Council; the North West Coastal Forum; the North West Regional Assembly; PISCES; the Ramblers Association; the RSPB and Sustrans. Together with the general consensus of opinion expressed at, and since, the event, this gives a clear mandate to take the Trail idea forward.
The next stage will be the development of an implementation framework, or business plan, for the Trail. This important piece of work is being jointly funded by the North West Coastal Forum and the North West Regional Assembly.
Both the Feasibility Study and a Consultation Form can be downloaded from the North West Coastal Forum website at www.nwcoastalforum.co.uk