Public right in England -- the 'right to roam' -- expanded

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Ministers are to open up the entire English coastline to the public in a historic and controversial extension of the "right to roam".

The move, which will make it possible to walk all 9,040 miles around the coast of Great Britain and create the first ever right of access to thousands of beaches, is provoking a bitter backlash from landowners and celebrities with expensive seaside properties, who will not be compensated.

It will also boost the profile of the fast-rising Secretary of State for the Environment, David Miliband, whose decision to push through the measure will win him new friends among Labour traditionalists, since access to the countryside is one of their most totemic issues.

Until now, the public has only had a right of access to about half of the country's coastline, mainly along paths, and - despite a popular misconception - none at all to most beaches.

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