A Possibly Diffinitive Answer from CE on Access!

Inland paddling

A Possibly Diffinitive Answer from CE on Access!

Postby Big Henry » Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:29 pm

On the 19th February I asked a question on the BCU North-East Region Facebook page:
I was wondering - is it actually legal to paddle inland rivers in the North East? The BCU should know, so can you tell me?

I thought I'd keep it short and simple to encourage a response. Last night I got one from Rachel Hudspith, who I have found out is the "PDO NORTH EAST & CUMBRIA" (Paddling Development Officer?) at CE:
Rachel Hudspith wrote:It is your choice. Depends on where you paddle and whether the landowners decide to prosecute or not. The BCU believes that we have a right of access but then the land owners think otherwise.

So it seems it's my choice if it's legal or not! I don't think that's what she actually meant and asked for more clarification (being a bit fastidious in my comment). Her reply stated this:
Rachel Hudspith wrote:The legal situation is publicised on Canoe England website. http://www.canoe-england.org.uk/waterways-and-environment/access-legal-position/ Where there are access arrangements you are paddling legally.

(My emphasis. The answer continued, and can be seen here or via the link at the top of the thread.)

So from the comment "Where there are access arrangements you are paddling legally" does this mean that CE/BCU believe that where access agreements are NOT in place, you are breaking the law by paddling, and (my logic brings me to...) access agreements should be in place before anyone can legally paddle a stretch of water?

Rachel does go on to mention the wonderful work of Caffyn and a need for it to be tested in court. But doesn't say they are willing to test it!

Thoughts?
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Re: A Possibly Diffinitive Answer from CE on Access!

Postby Strad » Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:58 pm

the legal position on that CE page is described differently to the response that Richard Atkinson gave Mark on FB, I suspect it is out of date. ;-)

Please see my response below to your question regarding whether canoeing is legal or not. I would like to reiterate that the sport of canoeing is a wholly legal activity otherwise it would not be endorsed by various organisations such as Sport England, British Olympic Association, International Canoe Federation etc but Canoe England accepts that the current perception in common law in this country supports the position that where rights are not explicit navigation may constitute a trespass. (http://www.canoe-england.org.uk/waterwa ... -position/)

The area of access to and along inland water is extremely complex, and CE and the Government disagree about the strategy for the delivery of sustainable access across England but CE is fully engaged with the relevant departments in Government and is working with them on all canoeing matters.
In short what is needed is clarity in relation to the Law and a system of access that most other countries in the world have adopted.

In response to Graham’s question I would like to add:

The Rev’d Dr Caffyn’s historical research has made a key contribution in discussing the case for the restoration of rights to non-tidal waters. However, the BCU or Canoe England does not have the legal expertise to either accept or challenge his work.
Canoe England and the BCU are not aware of any meaningful challenge to his work and its conclusion there is a public right on all unregulated rivers that are physically useable. It could be an indication of the difficulty this poses for other interests and their reluctance to openly argue against it, mindful of the possible consequence on the present understanding of the law.
Canoe England recognises that only the judicial system can interpret the law and that neither it nor the BCU is a legal authority.
CE recognises that a lot of watersport in England takes place on a de facto basis without objection and that the lack of a clearly understandable legal position can lead to localised conflict but this is in fact minimal.
Canoe England has stated it can only support arrangements that meet the Governments tests for access – clarity, security, certainty and permanence (see http://www.canoe-england.org.uk/waterwa ... angements/ )

NB On this and other points the CE position is not dissimilar to that recently expressed by CW.

CE accepts that access arrangements may work well for individuals, or small organisations/clubs as a requirement for them to navigate with that group but these are not a means for securing public access.
Canoe England supports all types of canoeing and in this Olympic year are launching a new initiative to encourage the recreational paddler. CE also recognises that the majority of its members are recreational paddlers and we endeavour to represent all paddlers regardless of discipline or ability.

Richard Atkinson

Waterways & Environment Manager

Canoe England


Old School?? I miss my AQII..
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Re: A Possibly Diffinitive Answer from CE on Access!

Postby Adrian Cooper » Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:15 pm

Atkinson wrote: BCU or Canoe England does not have the legal expertise to either accept or challenge his work.


Perhaps this issue should be looked at in reverse; for completeness. So Caffyn says there is a historic right, if he is wrong, there must be a law which counters his opinion; surely that is essential to prove a case. Anyone know of such a law?
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Re: A Possibly Diffinitive Answer from CE on Access!

Postby Strad » Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:42 am

Adrian, that was pretty much what I was asking, why aren't our ngb putting that view as their way forward
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Re: A Possibly Diffinitive Answer from CE on Access!

Postby once young » Sat Mar 17, 2012 1:01 am

Perhaps they do not wish to get into a position of trying to defend a legal action incurring all of the costs involved and then be at the whim of a district judge who is most likely a water whipper anyway! Note: Legal action for what I am not sure.

I do not feel the stance of BCU/CE has any kind of plan behind it other than one of damage limitation pending some change in the 'Right to Roam' law, or some other magically fix.

Now, where did I put that old lamp? ( and was it one rubs or two for the genie for who grants really big wishes ? )
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Re: A Possibly Diffinitive Answer from CE on Access!

Postby Big Henry » Sun Mar 18, 2012 1:32 am

once young wrote:Perhaps they do not wish to get into a position of trying to defend a legal action incurring all of the costs involved and then be at the whim of a district judge who is most likely a water whipper anyway! Note: Legal action for what I am not sure.

I do not feel the stance of BCU/CE has any kind of plan behind it other than one of damage limitation pending some change in the 'Right to Roam' law, or some other magically fix.

Now, where did I put that old lamp? ( and was it one rubs or two for the genie for who grants really big wishes ? )

Clickety click.
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Re: A Possibly Diffinitive Answer from CE on Access!

Postby Big Henry » Sun Mar 18, 2012 1:35 am

The BCU North-East Region Facebook access discussion continues, feel free to add your comments!
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Re: A Possibly Diffinitive Answer from CE on Access!

Postby Jim Pullen » Sun Mar 18, 2012 9:57 am

Alan, I very much doubt you'll get any answers on national policy from a couple of volunteers on what is essentially a regional coaching site. The NE regional has no one in the position of RAA and I very much doubt that the national waterways bods have bothered talking to the LRAs for years, or are even aware who they are.
Done any NE/NW rivers not on the site? PM me!
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