PLANS to open up new stretches of Somerset's coastline between Brean Down and Minehead to walkers could provide a major tourism boost, say council bosses.

The Government has given the go-ahead to add 90kms of Somerset's coastline to the England Coast Path, meaning walkers will have access rights to previously cut-off beaches, cliffs and other areas.

The announcement follows detailed work by Somerset County Council, Natural England and landowners.

Cllr Harvey Siggs, Somerset County Council's cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “This move will unlock the beautiful Somerset coastline to visitors from all over the country as well local residents and international tourists and we look forward to the economic benefit that it will bring to the county.

“We have been working closely with the landowners and Natural England to make sure that development of the Somerset section of the England Coast Path is managed as sensitively as possible and compliments the surrounding areas.”

The council's rights of way team will now lead the work to prepare this stretch of coast path for public use.

Their first step is to contact owners and occupiers to finalise the design and location of any new infrastructure, such as signs and gates.

James Diamond, Natural England's area manager for Somerset, said: “We are delighted the route has been given the green light and I'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been involved in the preparations, as their significant knowledge and expertise has been invaluable.

“We have worked closely with a wide range of local interests in developing the proposals and we now look forward to putting the route in place for everyone to enjoy.”