Published: 11:10, 24 January 2021
| Updated: 07:03, 25 January 2021
The “continuous, easy to follow” route forms part of Natural England’s aim to improve access along the country’s shoreline.
Work is now underway to prepare the stretch for public use, which will run through Whitstable, Nagden, Hollowshore, Little Murston and Ridham Docks in Iwade.
The owners and occupiers of the affected land will be contacted to discuss the design and location of any new signs and gates that may be needed.
New access rights will come into force along the route when preparations are complete.
Senior adviser for the coast path in East Sussex and Kent, Jenny Bowen, says Natural England welcomes the approval by environment secretary George Eustice.
“When this 43km of the route opens, it will contribute to a 2,700 mile long National Trail around the whole of the English coast and will help boost the local economy as well as a benefit for coastal communities,” she said.
“The route will be a continuous, easy to follow path, passing through some of our finest countryside and some of England’s most stunning, dynamic, challenging and famous coastal scenery.”
Natural England submitted a report for improving coastal access between Whitstable and Iwade to the environment secretary in 2017.
The approved path largely follows existing public rights of way and walked routes.
But there will be some sections of new access, which bosses at Natural England say will provide a continuous and safe route that brings people close to the coast.
Once in place, the England Coast Path will secure rights of access to areas of coastal land such as beaches and foreshore.
Parts of the route will be able to “roll back” in response to future erosion, allowing a replacement route to be put in place quickly without involvement from the Secretary of State.
As part of the establishment of the trail, new signs will be provided along the route to explain the important winter birdlife and encourage walkers to help protect it.
Natural England hopes the trail will be open in early 2022 - depending on delays that may result from the pandemic. It is estimated to cost almost £55,000.
Seasalter city councillor Ashley Clark (Con) welcomes the plan and says opening paths of this nature “takes a huge amount of effort”.
He said: “They are important because they create certainty and allow controlled access to the countryside and this is vital to our physical and mental well-being.
“This does not convey a general right to roam and it is important that users of the path stick to it, take any litter home, respect the land and any livestock and minimise disturbance to any wildlife along the route.
“Clear signage is an essential requirement to ensuring that the correct balance is maintained.”
Natural England’s coastal path from Folkestone and Ramsgate is already open to the public.
Routes from Ramsgate to Whitstable and Grain to Woolwich have also been given the green light and the Iwade to Grain trail has been partially approved.