Petition to make waterways right of way.

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Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by gp.girl » Wed Mar 02, 2016 5:48 pm

1000+ signatures already. Sign and share :)

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/123180
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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by Whitey1 » Wed Mar 02, 2016 6:09 pm

This was shared by our club chairman and I've signed it but immediately I wondered if this is the right approach. I mean, we all believe we already have the right to paddle, a right substiantiated by the work of Dr. Caffyn etc.etc. Then yesterday I read the thread re the new C.E.O. of BC, and there was some concern over 'sustainable' river access.

Is there any chance we weaken our argument by seeking legislation to legitimise our access, when our stance for some time has been that we have said right in law already. I'd welcome some level headed guidance and opinions please.

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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by Franky » Wed Mar 02, 2016 6:44 pm

Whitey1 wrote: Is there any chance we weaken our argument by seeking legislation to legitimise our access, when our stance for some time has been that we have said right in law already. I'd welcome some level headed guidance and opinions please.
I don't have any expertise, but you're surely right. To seek to make waterways rights of way is effectively to demand access, and to demand access is to legitimise the claim that we don't already have it.

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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by John K » Wed Mar 02, 2016 7:38 pm

As tends to happen there seem to be mixed messages about "access to" rivers and the right to paddle them.

Most of us seem to be quite happy that there is a general public right of navigation on most rivers, but public access points tend to be few and far between. "Access to" rivers would be a good thing to have by right.

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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by gp.girl » Wed Mar 02, 2016 7:54 pm

Agreements such as the ones on the Usk, Dart and Dee also don't help either but you can't stop them existing. They charge for use of the Tyweryn. You need a licence to paddle many rivers and canals often not included in BCU membership. Plus Scotland already has a right of navigation so on that basis paddlers have got no chance of ever getting Dr Caffyn's work recognised. Will keep laughing at the No Canoeing signs and hope the b*****ds don't vandalise my car.
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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by RichA » Wed Mar 02, 2016 9:51 pm

Whitey1 wrote:Is there any chance we weaken our argument by seeking legislation to legitimise our access, when our stance for some time has been that we have said right in law already. I'd welcome some level headed guidance and opinions please.
This was the reason I haven't signed it. Like you, I'd welcome some guidance from BCU or whoever is running things now.

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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by DaveBland » Thu Mar 03, 2016 12:11 am

Okay, so I'm a grumpy bugger, so treat this with the contempt that any cynical rambling from an old codger deserves...

...but I have a real problem with this sort of petition. A thousand signatures you say. That won't even get one eyelash hair twitch of a reaction. Maybe half a million and someone may notice.
Loads of little petitions really only go to highlight how minor any protest is.

Great that the MASSIVE amount of time and effort the Save the Fairy Glen team put in, can get a result on a local level, but getting the law changed or clarified will take a monster initiative with chunks of resources behind it.

Combine that with, as others have said, the fact that everything's actually pretty okay at the moment and any demand for access signifies that we don't really believe we have the right, and it's all a bit futile and counter productive.
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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by Jim » Thu Mar 03, 2016 12:34 am

I saw it days ago, but I ignored it because it almost completely misses the point - many rivers are rights of way (navigation) but we still don't have proper access rights because the issue is about access over land to get to the water. The way the petition is worded, parliament won't be compelled to debate that at all, in fact if I understand the premise, they have to stick rigidly to the subject as written so cannot even debate it.

I'm sure someone meant well.

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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by RichA » Thu Mar 03, 2016 1:03 pm

I'd be interested to hear from whoever set it up, why they worded it as they did. Not to give them an ear full! Literally just genuine curiosity, or possibly mildly sceptical that it came from a paddler at all.

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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by John K » Thu Mar 03, 2016 2:07 pm

I believe it could have been better worded, but I signed it despite my reservations on the basis that it might at least demonstrate that there is some level of interest in the issue.

When I signed a couple of days ago there were 700 signatures, and it's now at around 1,200. The Watersports Participation Survey published by British Marine yesterday shows that canoeing (which I assume covers most paddlesports) had 1,400,000 UK participants last year so it would be nice to think that we might manage to muster 10,000 signatures.

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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by Franky » Thu Mar 03, 2016 2:29 pm

John K wrote:I believe it could have been better worded, but I signed it despite my reservations on the basis that it might at least demonstrate that there is some level of interest in the issue.
In signing this petition you are putting your name to the statement,

"Currently if you'd like to enjoy English and Welsh waterways you're likely to be trespassing"

I'm not sure how that follows, but it's the words you're signing, not the sentiment. Lawyers and politicians weigh their words carefully, and paddlers would be wise to follow their example :\

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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by John K » Thu Mar 03, 2016 2:51 pm

Hmmm. Maybe it's a trap!

I think that there are potential issues with trespassing though (often only a little bit if that makes any difference) related to where we get on and off rivers and for portages which would be good to sort out. Can I stop clutching at straws now?

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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by Strad » Thu Mar 03, 2016 3:08 pm

Franky wrote: In signing this petition you are putting your name to the statement,

"Currently if you'd like to enjoy English and Welsh waterways you're likely to be trespassing"

I'm not sure how that follows, but it's the words you're signing, not the sentiment. Lawyers and politicians weigh their words carefully, and paddlers would be wise to follow their example :\
Oh how true! It's easy to get caught by a 'well it can't hurt to sign' mentality, when in fact you also reinforce the negative as well as asking for the positive.
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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by Adrian Cooper » Thu Mar 03, 2016 11:13 pm

If you ask permission you are implying that permission could be withheld

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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by Keith Day » Sat Mar 05, 2016 11:33 am

There is a lot of very compelling evidence that there is and always has been a public right of navigation on all rivers capable of navigation. The evidence is so compelling that it has never been challenged in court. That also means that no modern court has ruled on the existence of the public right of navigation. As far as I know no modern court has ruled on the existence of gravity but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist either.

It doesn't make any sense to ask anyone to give us what we already have. We don't want a new right of navigation, we want recognition of the right we already have. Until we get that recognition the evidence says that the PRN (like gravity) still exists.

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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by DaveBland » Sat Mar 05, 2016 4:25 pm

Perfectly put Keith. And in no way was my earlier rant aimed at the fab work you are doing.
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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by SimonMW » Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:02 am

I don't think the petition is asking for new rights, but simply to encapsulate them in law so that there is no dispute about it all, just like in Scotland. The problem is that every time the Welsh government has considered making Scottish style legislation they have been heavily lobbied to forget about it. And they do.

Why? Because there is no lobbying in the opposite direction because nobody bothers to let their MP know that they want better access and their right to navigate encapsulated in modern law. Yes we know it is an ancient right, but just you try getting a Government representative to acknowledge that!

If you stay silent on the matter all that will happen is that the angling and land owning lobbies will continue to lobby against us. They aren't just trying to prevent an new legislation, they are lobbying to get our rights restricted. They want licenses and they want the law clarified or changed against us.

Think it won't happen? Well, MPs react to what they perceive to be the demand of their constituents. If all they hear is from the angling and landowning sides, while people here can't be bothered to actively say anything themselves, then don't be surprised if they eventually get their way.

Palm Bell, one of the originators of the petition, is hardly a stranger to the research and history of access issues as many people here will know.

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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by SimonMW » Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:08 am

And to those here who are saying that the petition will need millions to get it considered, I would suggest looking at the petitions that are currently under consideration. Some of them haven't even got 50 signatures. When the WG last looked at this issue properly there were around 10,000 signatures. But hey, there will never be that many signatures if people can't be bothered to let the WG that they want clarified access and navigation rights like pretty much every other country in the world. Let's just stay with the current "he says, she says" situation with no clarity and angling associations who think they own the river.

You may not give a toss, but if you're leading a group of youngsters down a river as part of a club or group and you get some irate idiot who thinks he has sole knowledge of the law f'ing and blinding, it is hardly an endorsement for the river life in this country, and hardly attractive to new participants.

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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by davebrads » Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:43 am

I think that the wording of the petition is incorrect and I will not sign unless it is amended.

It states "the bed and banks of rivers and canals are privately owned, unlike Scotland/the rest of the world."

As far as I am aware ownership of the river bed has never been established in law. Remove or amend this statement and I will sign the petition, otherwise I do believe that we are weakening our current situation.
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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by Poke » Tue Mar 08, 2016 11:45 am

davebrads wrote:As far as I am aware ownership of the river bed has never been established in law.
I was under the impression that this WAS an established law, but this government document implies otherwise:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/s ... T_7114.pdf
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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by Strad » Tue Mar 08, 2016 12:03 pm

I was under the impression that this WAS an established law, but this government document implies otherwise:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/s ... T_7114.pdf
from that document:

Like:
Recreation and navigation
The Environment Agency has a duty to encourage the appropriate recreational use of watercourses. On some rivers they are also responsible for navigation. In this role the Environment Agency may require special licensing or place restrictions on plans for the bed or banks of a river. These requirements may affect proposals for mooring and landing facilities and you may also need a boat licence.
Dislike:
Navigation
The tidal reaches of many rivers, where the sea flows in and out of the mouth of the river, have public rights of navigation. Harbour authorities may have some control in these reaches. However, there is no public right of navigation on most nontidal watercourses, but the public can use some specific rivers and canals administered by navigation authorities, private companies or the Environment Agency.
Arguably the second statement does not support the first, it also does not reflect the EA evidence on navigation rights. I have several times received mails from the EA when challenging over this sort of statement that they do not have any legal representation confirming or denying rights of navigation. I.e. they have no legal proof that we do not have public navigation yet they keep on writing stuff that represents the more corporate view point of ownership of rights rather than public rights.

edit: BTW I will be writing to my MP asking that he request this pdf is fixed by the EA so that it does not make the second statement unless the EA can cite legal precedence confirming this is the correct stand point. It would be worth others doing the same. The last time my MP chased a change like this the corresponding website was changed to replace a statement like this with one that stated they cannot confirm whether public navigation rights exist or not. - so we can do it again. Especially if others also chase this sort of thing as well.
Last edited by Strad on Tue Mar 08, 2016 12:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by Big Henry » Tue Mar 08, 2016 12:07 pm

I think it is the wrong time to be doing this, mainly because too many members of the present government are some of the landowners along water courses, or are too entangled/mates with others who are. If Corbyn gets into power I have no doubt that he would have a more sympathetic ear to the cause. Considering that, is there anyone in his constituency on here who can approach him at one of his surgeries or can write to himm, so he definitely knows about it?

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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by SimonMW » Tue Mar 08, 2016 12:36 pm

Isn't the WAG having an election soon? Surely this is the right time, so that those who live in Wales can tell their prospective MP that they won't vote for them unless they support greater access. Btw I thought the petition linked to was the one for the Wels Assembly that Pam Bell created. I was mistaken and just found that the link went to a different site. Oops.

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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by Franky » Tue Mar 08, 2016 9:33 pm

SimonMW wrote:But hey, there will never be that many signatures if people can't be bothered to let the WG that they want clarified access and navigation rights like pretty much every other country in the world. Let's just stay with the current "he says, she says" situation with no clarity and angling associations who think they own the river.
For me that is preferable to signing a petition that says, "Currently if you'd like to enjoy English and Welsh waterways you're likely to be trespassing."

That suggests that even by harbouring nice thoughts about English and Welsh waterways (which waterways exactly?), you're "likely" (how likely? and why?) to be trespassing.

You may say I'm being pedantic; and I've no reason to assume the petitioner's intentions aren't good; but skilled lawyers could make mincemeat of any claim to an existing right of access based on the wording of this document.

I'd sign a petition asking for paddlers' claim to an existing right of access to be codified, but that is not what this petition is asking for.

If one writes to one's MP about the issue, at least one has a choice about the words one uses...

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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by Pam Bell » Tue Mar 08, 2016 11:15 pm

I think there is some confusion about two petitions that are currently collecting signatures.
As a member of the Waters of Wales - WoW campaign community I am one of the originators of THIS PETITION for legislation similar to the Land Reform (Scotland) Act. THIS PETITION will be delivered to the Welsh Assembly shortly after the Welsh General Election in May. The Waters of Wales - WoW campaign community consider that doing nothing in the face of Welsh Government's failure to act is not an option, as there is a considerable amount of lobbying taking place to further restrict access. As Simon has pointed out in this thread, while the lobby against access is active and vociferous, most Welsh Assembly Members hear little, if anything, from those affected by access restrictions. If we don't fight for our rights, we WILL lose them!
There is another petition to UK Parliament, which talks about trespass and asks for a right of navigation. I have nothing to do with that one. I would be delighted if there were a comparable campaign in England, but I am unable to sign the other petition, due to the way it is worded.

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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by Chris Bolton » Wed Mar 09, 2016 7:49 am

Well put, Pam. I signed the WoW petition when it was launched, and I'm disappointed to see it doesn't have more signatures. Apart from the direct benefits to Wales, I see it as a stepping stone for England. Particularly with the current UK Government, progress in England will be difficult, but having both Scotland and Wales as precedents would be significant. I urge anybody who hasn't signed it to do so, whether from Wales or England.

The recent petition is unfortunate - I don't want to sign it because the wording could be used against us, and the less support it gets the sooner it will be forgotten - but on the other hand, if it doesn't get support, that will be used against us as well.

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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by Ken_T » Wed Mar 09, 2016 9:03 am

Hi,
I also signed Pam's Water Of Wales petition, but am concerned that this petition acknowledges the Fish Legal/Anglers Trust version of the law & will be able to be used against us at a future date. I think we should have an English (or English & Welsh) petition as well as the Welsh petition, but need to be very careful of the wording, Fish Legal will examine it carefully to see if it can be used against us.
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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by Pam Bell » Wed Mar 09, 2016 9:59 am

Chris Bolton:
I don't want to sign [the 'other' petition] because the wording could be used against us, and the less support it gets the sooner it will be forgotten - but on the other hand, if it doesn't get support, that will be used against us as well.
Those who seek to restrict access will try to use against us anything we do, but lack of support for the 'other' petition can easily be explained given that we already have a right of navigation and the wording concerning trespass is also incorrect. Also, much of their information is referenced to the now defunct Canoe England website.

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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by Adrian Cooper » Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:24 am

This was posted by Jim Pullen back in 2011
A letter from the Land Registry Head Office.

RE. Registration of land covered by water.

Thank you for your letter dated 17 March. Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding.

As part of a review of the Land Registry ’s approach to the application of general boundaries in 2009, the methodology for mapping land abutting a non-tidal river was examined.

Previously, the convention adopted was that where a parcel of land abutted a non-tidal river, but the title deeds were silent as to the inclusion or exclusion of the river and there was nothing to cast doubt on the ad medium filum presumption (that adjoining landowners own to the mid-point of the river), the title plan would be mapped to include half of the non-tidal river’s width within the red edging. If the title deeds specifically included or excluded the river, then it was included within, or shown outside, the red edging (as appropriate).

Our view now is that, generally, titles founded on the ad medium filum presumption are unsatisfactory, the presumption (like any presumption) being rebuttable. We are likely therefore to exclude rivers from the red edging on the title plan unless a satisfactory title has been deduced. Nevertheless, as with highways, this is only a convention and we will depart from it if there is thought to be good reason in a particular case for doing so.

It needs to be remembered that the inclusion in, or exclusion from, the red edging of the whole or part of the river is not conclusive as to ownership. All registered title plans show only the general position of boundaries, unless they are shown as having been determined as exact boundaries pursuant to section 60 of the Land Registration Act 2002.

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Re: Petition to make waterways right of way.

Post by DaveBland » Wed Mar 09, 2016 4:28 pm

Is it me or is it all a bit futile? I really like Keith's approach to calmly asserting our right to navigation and disseminating information to support that. But all these disjointed petitions, which are a symptom of paddlers' notorious lack of organizational skills, are just too small-time to make a dent. And given that we DO have the right to paddle, isn't it just better to carry on padding respectfully and using our rivers? I'm not sure we have anything to prove? Of course, the odd isolated incident of a grumpy landowner can spoil things, but that can happen where there is acknowledged access too. "Gerrorff my land" equates to "Hey buddy, I'll kick your ass" if you are near someone's private space.
The law and situation in the UK isn't ideal, but generally paddlers get to paddle where thy want. Neither side will want to push for clarity too much for fear of losing and with the landowners in bed with the politicians, nothing is going to change soon. In Pam's petition it talks about unless we push for access, we'll lose our rights. I'm not so sure. It will take a specific change of the law to do that and that won't happen without a huge outcry.
As the Fairy Glen hydro proposal has shown, this is the biggest threat to out sport and access. Stupid, misguided funding for waste of time, environmentally damaging schemes so the govt. can claim to be supporting green energy.
For me, I'd be focusing on that.
dave

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