Threat to South Wales beach path

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Neath Port Talbot Council proposes to close the public footpath known as Longlands Lane (footpath 92) which leads to Morfa Beach, Margam, and to move the path (footpath 93) from its route along the edge of the dunes onto a disused railway.

The extinguishment and diversion orders are made under the Highways Act 1980 and the closing date for objections is Monday 19 September. Morfa Beach extends from Aberavon Sands to the mouth of the Kenfig River.

We are dismayed that Neath Port Talbot Council is promoting path changes which will reduce people’s access to Morfa Beach, just when local authorities and the Countryside Council for Wales should be implementing the Welsh Government’s plans to create a coastal path around Wales.

We have opposed the path closure since the only tenable argument for closure under the Highways Act 1980 is that the path is not needed by the public. Of course this path is needed: it is an important means of access to the beach.

Although the council apparently claims that the route does not lead to the beach but stops at a road owned by Tata Steel, local people have walked from there to the beach for many years, without being stopped or asking permission. Thus there is a public highway to the beach, it is just not recorded as such on the official map of rights of way. We suggest that local people put in a path claim as soon as possible.

We are also fighting the diversion of footpath 93 onto a route which we consider to be inferior. It is preferable to walk closer to the sea, with wide views across Swansea Bay, rather than to follow the disused railway.

The council proposes to create a new path along the south side of Margam Burrows near the River Kenfig. We believe the additional path, giving access to this part of the beach, will be a public asset and therefore are happy to support the creation, but in addition to, not instead of, the existing paths.

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