COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: Ramblers put price on revenue cost of blocked footpaths

The Ramblers' Association is stepping up its campaign to improve English footpaths by publishing a report demonstrating their financial benefit to the UK economy.

The findings show that walkers spend £6bn during more than 500 million countryside walking trips each year. It also estimates that between 185,000 and 245,000 jobs are supported by these trips.

The report will be sent to rights-of-way officers at local authorities, ministers, tourist boards and regional development agencies to convince councils of the need to put money into repairing the English countryside.

A third of all England's paths are obstructed and the report concludes that the "disincentive effect on return visits to areas notorious for obstructed paths is likely to be significant". It has calculated that £69m would improve these paths.

The Association will this week send an information sheet to its 3,000 most active members, asking them to lobby local authorities.

"It's important that money is allocated to clear paths so they are able to fulfil the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which comes into force next year," said Jacquetta Fewster, head of footpath campaigns at the association.

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