WALKERS will soon be able to enjoy the longest coastal walking route in the world as work is officially underway along every stretch of the England Coast Path.

Natural England is now working on 100 per cent of the 2,700 mile route which, when completed, will allow people to explore new and improved routes along the entire length of the English coastline.

The coastline already attracts 300 million visits a year, with people spending £106 billion – up to three times more than at any other holiday destination.

Lord Gardiner, Rural Affairs Minister, said: "We have some of the most spectacular coastland in the world, with iconic sites such as the White Cliffs at Dover and the picturesque beaches at Whitby attracting millions of tourists and walkers every year.

"By working closely with landowners, farmers and local communities, we are well on track to creating the world’s longest coastal path by 2020."

Most recently, routes have opened in North Yorkshire and Norfolk, with further stretches set to open in Kent, the north east and Cumbria over the coming months.

However, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), has accused the government of using public money unnecessarily to replicate access to the coast that already existed.

The CLA, which represents landowners who own the private land affected by the route, says access was already provided before Natural England began the project in 2009.

It suggests the millions of pounds spent on delivery would have been better spent on improving existing facilities on established coastal paths.

Ross Murray, president, said: "The money is being spent to solve a problem which didn’t exist in the first place. There was already access to 84 per cent of the coast before Natural England began the project and, as the rollout is showing, access to the rest is often not possible because of crucial conservation sites, ports, harbours or military bases.

"If the Government wanted to spend money on the coast it would have been better allocated to improving maintenance, signs, toilets and car parks on already established paths.

"We would urge the Government to follow the coastal access model successfully delivered in Wales which achieved an 870-mile complete coast path in a shorter timescale and at a cost of less than £10 million to the taxpayer."