26 July 2016
The Minister for the Environment has proposed a series of measures to improve access to Jersey’s countryside. It follows the findings of a consultation which asked people for detailed feedback on the Island’s coastal and countryside path network.
The network was mainly established in the 1980s, primarily for walkers. Since then, Jersey’s population has increased and the narrow paths have become busier and used for a wider range of recreational activities. This can lead to conflict between people that use the paths, those that manage them, and landowners.
Based on responses to the consultation, the Department of the Environment has developed a Countryside Access Strategy for 2016 - a co-ordinated plan for future management of the network.
The Minister’s aim is for access to Jersey’s coast and countryside to be safe, sustainable and cost effective, with minimal impact on biodiversity. There are four main areas of work to achieve it:
- engagement and co-operative working
- interpretation and awareness
- managing and improving access to the countryside
In addition, the Department of the Environment will promote better engagement and co-operative working with the aim of delivering a set of short, medium and long-term actions. As part of this, users and other service providers will work together to improve interpretation and awareness of the network, and ensure it’s suitable for a broader range of users and is safe and resilient into the future.
Proposals for the next three years include:
- setting up groups to share ideas and solutions to improve countryside access
- developing a digital, activity-focused map of known Island-wide paths
- defining and categorising Jersey’s paths, and making it clear who can use them
- making 5km of paths available for multiple use (cyclists, walkers, horses etc.,) for a 12-month trial period.
Minister for the Environment, Deputy Steve Luce said “The Jersey countryside and its biodiversity is a treasured asset. In feedback, people tell us they really value it, and for good reason – coast and countryside paths provide access to some of the most beautiful and wild parts of our Island.
“Looked at more widely, the network offers environmental, educational, health, community and economic benefits to Jersey, so it plays a role in meeting government’s broader strategic agendas for healthy living, improved quality of life and greater enjoyment of the countryside.
“But it’s under considerable pressure. Roughly 100,000 locals and visitors use the countryside and coastal path network each year for walking, cycling, sport and recreation – on trails designed just for walkers.”
The Minister continued “We need to ensure we can maintain it, and improve it where necessary for people that use the paths, those that manage them, and the land owners who generously allow access to their land. With the new strategy I think we have a strong plan and public backing for investing in the network to improve, rather than just maintain it and I hope, in due course, people will start to see the difference.”
Download Countryside Access Strategy for Jersey 2016 report (size 2.4mb)