A public inquiry is to be held into the Environment Agency’s controversial proposal to ‘stop up’ and divert a public footpath in North Somercotes.
Campaigners and the North Somercotes Parish Council have opposed the plans to ‘stop up’ Footpath 18, which is an existing public right of way between Donna Nook and Grainthorpe via the Pye’s Hall Sluice Bridge.
‘Stopping up’ refers to the removal of public highway rights that exist on a piece of land, and control of the land reverts back to the owner.
This means that the land owner might permit the path to still be used by the public - then called a ‘permissive path’ - or they might not.
The plans to ‘stop up’ Footpath 18 is part of the Donna Nook Managed Realignment Scheme, which the Environment Agency says needs to be carried out in order to fulfil its ‘legal obligation’ to replace internationally important habitats that are lost through its flood defence works and rising sea levels.
As part of this realignment project, the Environment Agency has built a new flood defence structure which they claim will offer a higher standard of protection than the old coastal sea defences.
The Agency applied to the Department for Transport for an order to divert the footpath onto the new flood defence, with a diverted route which will continue the right of way between Marsh Lane, North Somercotes and Grainthorpe.
However, objections have been raised over the potential loss of a public right of way, and the fact that members of the public would have to detour a ‘considerable distance’ inland to use the newly-created sea bank around the realignment site, which is ‘much longer’ and does not have the same views out to sea and the estuary.
In light of these objections, the Secretary of State for Transport has now decided that a public inquiry into the ‘stopping up and diversion’ order should be held, and an inspector has been appointed.
The inquiry, which is expected to last two days, will begin at Kenwick Park Hotel at 10am on Tuesday June 26.
• Visit http://parishes.lincolnshire.gov.uk/NorthSomercotes for details.