Another access agreement shambles

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caveman_si
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Another access agreement shambles

Post by caveman_si »

I was passed a draft copy of an access agreement yesterday that almost looked well written and fair on first reading. On second reading I was most anoyed to see it was terrible, (in my opinion).

The good
The river is part of SSSI/SAC and as such clear environmental reasons for setting a minimum level. Access only 1st Nov-31st July subject to the minimum level. The minimum level was set and where to view it in a number of locations on the river given. A list of acceptable access points all public or with permission, named and with proper grid reference.

The bad
Large groups (more than 10) or outdoor centre groups are asked to avoid the river due to its narrowness and the sensitive wildlife.

The worse.
No paddling 1 Aug- 31st Oct unless agreed in advance with the local landowner association and subject to the environmental conditions.
Now that almost seems fair except the no access 1Aug-31stOct was decided for the following reason:
As the river is a narrow river it is not possible to canoe and fish at the same time – especially when the river is in spate. There are many health and safety issues as the majority of anglers are spinning or fishing on the worm using ledgers. Casting is further across the river with hooks which can be dangerous. Paddling at this time can cause disturbance to angling.

Does that last line make anyone elses blood boil? So the reasoning is some health and safety waffle and then opps it might upset some fishermen cant be having that then.
Oh the river in question is the River Cocker in the lakes. So makes me doubt the environement reasons for restrictions on the Derwent too.

Can anyone else think of any "narrow" rivers where there is fishing and paddling as I want a few examples for my response to the proposal.

Oh can anyone guess which government organisation has arranged this draft agreement? And I am shocked to find 3 groups of canoeist are supposed to have been consulted in its creation including the BCU (who seem to have much less back bone then the WCA).

Also anyone know why the BCU is still agreeing to take part in setting up access agreements that are clearly not fair or even remotely

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Re: Another access agreement shambles

Post by Jules »

caveman_si wrote:Also anyone know why the BCU is still agreeing to take part in setting up access agreements that are clearly not fair or even remotely



According to Andy Green, BCU's head of access, it is to prove that access agreements are not workable. Um.....yeah, I don't get it either! Maybe you should ask him yourself; andy.green@bcu.org.uk.



Jules

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Pete the kayaker
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Re: Another access agreement shambles

Post by Pete the kayaker »

caveman_si wrote:I was passed a draft copy of an access agreement yesterday that almost looked well written and fair on first reading. On second reading I was most anoyed to see it was terrible, (in my opinion).<Snip>Also anyone know why the BCU is still agreeing to take part in setting up access agreements that are clearly not fair or even remotely
I got this also. I haven't replied yet, but am considering replying along the lines that although I recognise and respect the minimum water levels, I shall not feel bound by the dates as; 1. Why should my pastime be limited by those taking part in another? The argument that the river cannot support both fishing and kayaking is just the usual nonsense from anti-social maggot-drowners. 2. The riparian owners do not have the right to bar passage down a main waterway (i.e. please refer to the works of the esteemed Rev Caffyn).

I, too, wonder why the BCU is even involved in this process? I suspect it's 'political' but we shouldn't be part to this. It's high time the BCU were not involved in placing unnecessary restrictions on those partaking of the sport for which it's supposed to be the NGB!
*Fringe Extremist*

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Post by lemming »

As a matter of interest - (and not a matter of principle BEFORE YOU ALL SET FIRE TO MT BOAT)
Is the river paddleable in summer?

Is there a similar clause which says no fishing for 9 months of the year so the paddlers are not disturbed by people flinging hooks at them?

If anglers and paddlers cannot play nicely together (and again, I can't be bothered to get into an argument about whose fault that might be - I think there's quite enough of that on here!) is it not better to have sole use for a portion of the year?

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Post by morsey »

lemming wrote:If anglers and paddlers cannot play nicely together (and again, I can't be bothered to get into an argument about whose fault that might be - I think there's quite enough of that on here!) is it not better to have sole use for a portion of the year?
Nope. I cannot be bothered to go in depth as to why, it will take four pages. Basically it comes down to the fact that anglers and canoes sharing the same waterways already exists in England and Wales across the BWB controlled waters/Thames navigations and others, in Scotland and across Europe. Canoeists do not need/want sole use of rivers, we are happy to share.

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Re: Another access agreement shambles

Post by morsey »

caveman_si wrote:The river is part of SSSI/SAC and as such clear environmental reasons for setting a minimum level.
What are the environmental concerns? They seem to match exactly with the time anglers want to fish!?! My chin is so very itchy that I stroke it much in a bearded fashion!


So the agreement allows groups of ten but the river is not wide enough to support angling and canoeing at the same time! The restrictions on angling are as a consequence of the drain on the environment caused by angling. If Angling did not take place on a river there would be no need for a close season. So lets not pretend for one moment we should feel we have to share the river only in the time that anglers are stopping themselves from their activity.

How do anglers know they cannot share the river if they are not even prepared to try it in the first instance? Oh, because they know that not being able to share is just pretense and they are just SELFISH!

This agreement is Utter chod, it is being masked with a reference to environmental issues that are simply not the reason for any restriction of canoes. I would rather lick clean the dry bags from a Colorado Canyon trip than say yes to this agreement.

Cavey_Si have you thought about collecting names from this site of people who do not accept this agreement proposal and adding them to your reply?

You can mine for starters:

Simon Morse

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Post by NPearce »

a·gree·ment
n.
1. The act of agreeing.
2. Harmony of opinion; accord.
3. An arrangement between parties regarding a course of action; a covenant.

Who is agreeing this in behalf of paddlers?
Is this agreeing party in agreement with all paddlers?

I would have thought that over the last 50 years the BCU might have realised that so called agreements (diktats?) have not been working and surely persuing them to prove this is wasting good money that could be spent in a more productive way.

Some points of the good in that diktat seem fair. Measure paddleable level by an agreed mark, Steer clear of SSSI areas. However if the level is met during summer there should be no reason not to paddle it. And SSSI concerns coinciding with the angling season smell more than a little fishy. Maybe its a new tact to remove our presence for the season.

Slightly off topic, are people banned / restricted from SSSI areas in general? I would have thought that floating past such an area would do far less damage that a pair of size 10's trapsing through it to find a nice spot to stick a shelter up and rest an ar5e for the day.

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Post by caveman_si »

Lemming as far as I am aware other then the usual restrictions on fishing seasons then no there is no clause banning fishermen for 9months of the year.
As for being paddlable if there is water to an suitable level regardless of what time of year it is by definition it is paddlable. It seams lunacy that the river that is fine to paddle on today at exactly the same water level tomorrow isnt just because yesterday was July 31st and today is August 1st.

Morsey as far as I am aware one of the main environmental concern for the setting of the water level is the salmnoid breeding grounds that run through the area. That is something I dont have a problem with, in fact I welcome it, The setting of sensible levels for environmental reason based on scientific reasons/evidance. What I object to is the restriction on H&S grounds couple with the it might interfer with the angleing best not let it happen then.
Morsey (or anyone else for that matter) if you want to see the draft agreement with the comments for yourself as I paraphrased it PM me an email address and I will send you a copy.
.

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morsey
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Post by morsey »

Spot the similarities and the argument of the need for validation of "Environmental" concerns in this article about the Glaslyn:

http://www.snowdonia-active.com/news.asp?newsid=596

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Post by aleeivel »

They have a point there is a health and safety issue here, 1 group of potential users are chucking weights around on the end of almost invisible but very strong line with sharp hooks on the end.

From a H&S perspective the obvious solution is for them to be banned from this sport which is obviously so dangerous 2 others. ;-)

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Post by LDN Lee »

It's like telling kid's yeah keep thowing the stone's just make sure everyone else duck's.

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Post by Mark R »

'English Nature and the BCU agree that there is unlikely to be any significant impact on or lasting disturbance to wildlife and the water environment from the passage of canoes.'

http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/englishnature.doc
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Post by ChrisBainbridge »

Could we show how keen we are to protect SSIs etc and add the levels and where to find them to the guides page fairly quickly. (It will give Mark R something to do and stop him worrying about the rain, storms, hurricanes , etc that are going to start as soon as he heads upto Scotland) :-)

Actually Mark hope you have a great time and the sun shines for you.

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Post by Chris Bolton »

One thing(not the only thing) that worries me about this is the statement that the river is narrow. I've paddled it, and it's no narrower than many other rivers. It would be a dangerous precedent to accept an argument based on the width (irrespective of any other good reasons)

Chris

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Post by morsey »

Chris Bolton wrote:One thing(not the only thing) that worries me about this is the statement that the river is narrow. I've paddled it, and it's no narrower than many other rivers. It would be a dangerous precedent to accept an argument based on the width (irrespective of any other good reasons)
Chris It is basically utter chod. It is yet another of their, in the long list of, excuses made up by anglers to claim exclusive use.

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Post by Notters »

The river lyon in scotland is narrow and both sports can be enjoyed side by side, well almost anyway.

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Post by callwild »

Got sent this also.
Jo Ratcliffe from the EA, who seems to be coordinating this is trying her best to come to some sort of compromise and is caught between individual paddlers having their say and an organised local body of landowners and fishermen. She is listening to paddlers comments as the first draft of this agreement mentioned even more extreme restrictions and having to notify someone of your intentions to paddle.
Many local paddlers emailed her saying how there was no need for an agreement and that we would all ignore itas it originally stood.
This second bash has listened to those concerns to a degree but then goes and blows it all by mentioning these health and safety concerns, which are obviously the fishermen trying to justify excluding us from the river.

We all need to reply and say how ridiculous that statement is and that we cannott even think of accepting any agreement which makes such statements.

We must repeat that the only acceptable form of agreement should be along the lines of the River Greta. The Greta and the Cocker are of very similar size, in the same catchment, with the same fish and therefore a different agreement should not be needed apart from agreed river levels.

Not sure who from the BCU is negotiating this as the Lakes does not seem to have an LAO at the moment, so its important individual paddlers reply to Jo and tell her how ridiculous the health and safety thing is.

She is also aware of current feeling towards agreements as I sent her all the WCA access info when the first draft came out.
Stuart

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Post by morsey »

callwild wrote:and therefore a different agreement should not be needed apart from agreed river levels.
With regards to levels, I am sorry but many paddlers seem to think that we need to agree minimum levels! Why? What are the actual environmental concerns that are affected by canoeing? Do canoes impact on the river environment when the levels are low or are we just being told they are by anglers and fisheries?


My thinking is simple, this agreement is total pap. If the feedback from paddler says it is not acceptable and will be ignored then do not try and compromise, that is not what is wanted. Simply reject it and withdraw from the negotiations.

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Post by jmmoxon »

Unfortunately we live on one of the most crowded islands in the world, so some form of compromise will always be necessary on both sides.

Minimum flows is a sensible compromise, as long as we get a sensible minimum.

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Post by NickB »

The hazard in this argument is the fisherman, the event could be: fisherman casts line with weight & hook, an accident occurs as the weight and/or hook impacts or entraps a person, animal, rare vegetation etc.

According to HSE legislation the priority in mitigating against an accident it to remove the hazard ......................... ................... ................. end of argument!!!
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Post by aleeivel »

And obviously canoes frighten fish away, that's why when I was paddling at Shepperton Weir @ the w/e I saw a couple of fish in the murky old Thames and that was with 20+ paddlers doing their best to make a splash!!
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Post by TomWardill »

aleeivel wrote:And obviously canoes frighten fish away, that's why when I was paddling at Shepperton Weir @ the w/e I saw a couple of fish in the murky old Thames and that was with 20+ paddlers doing their best to make a splash!!
And the people fishing over the other side of the river seemed to be getting a bite (well, I saw it at least once). Also saw a few fish jump.
That's with a full Div 3/4 slalom on, and the side sluices open.
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Post by Debaser »

Jo Ratcliffe from the EA, who seems to be coordinating this is trying her best to come to some sort of compromise and is caught between individual paddlers having their say and an organised local body of landowners and fishermen. She is listening to paddlers comments as the first draft of this agreement mentioned even more extreme restrictions and having to notify someone of your intentions to paddle.
She may well be listening to paddlers, however she will no doubt take more notice of someone working in 'Navigation Policy and Process' at the EA. Someone who says;
'...but our guidance remains that the case law does not support a general public right of navigation. I am not versed in law, but my lay assumption would be that the case law establishes that the bed of the river is private to the riparian owner and as such activites on or over said "land" require the riparian owners permission. However as I say this is my assumption and not the legal position of the Environment Agency...Our legal guidance will no doubt remain the same until such time as either an authority is provided or case law changes...'
Someone who pointed out three cases upon which this opinion was based, one of which is disproved by the EA's own report and another two which are about anglers fishing rivers upon which they were neither the riparian owners nor had received the riparian owners permission, and which have somehow been interpreted by sharp legal minds to mean No Navigation (despite one of those rivers specifically being made navigable by act of Parliament).

I have only been aware of the navigation issue for a year or so, and may not be aware of the intricacies, but do I know when I'm banging my head against a brick wall.

Editted to add;


Morsey wrote;
With regards to levels, I am sorry but many paddlers seem to think that we need to agree minimum levels! Why? What are the actual environmental concerns that are affected by canoeing? Do canoes impact on the river environment when the levels are low or are we just being told they are by anglers and fisheries?
Would you be surprised if I said no-one really knows? I've previously done some checking on the effects of unpowered water craft on wildlife and couldn't find a thing. Or more specifically couldn't find anything of worth. For most researchers it appears kayaks/canoes are just the same as powerboats and jetskis.

The only impact we might have is disturbing gravels on the bed of a river either by scraping the hull or with a paddle blade. However, I couldn't find anything which referred to the depths below the surface of the river-bed where eggs are layed by various species of fish, and which would obviously have a direct link to the amount of potential damage we might cause. Very important information, noteable by its' absence.

Know any budding biologists in need of a research topic? Get them on this. If they do it right they'll be the most quoted expert in the field.
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Post by aleeivel »

I'm sure any damage done by a herd of wild paddlers would fall into insignificance when compared to the river in spate!!!!
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Post by Debaser »

I'm sure any damage done by a herd of wild paddlers would fall into insignificance when compared to the river in spate!!!!
Exactly. I would think the potential areas of impact are;

1) River bed, specifically gravel beds where fish may lay eggs;
2) River banks, erosion damage due to seal launching or bow-waves (don't laugh);
3) Generally disturbing wildlife.

Number one, well there's no evidence for it, but as I said the research I was able to find wasn't extensive. Paddle with enough water to float and don't try to excavate the river-bed with your paddle - job done.

Number two, possible problem with seal-launching. Solution, don't seal launch from banks which look like they could be affected. Probably easier said than done, but shouldn't stop anyone trying. Alternatively, don't seal-launch when you don't need to. (Remember re-sale value could be affected by all those scratches as well).
As for bow-waves, etc. I think theres a picture (I'm not sure if it's on here or on a blog linked from here) of a kayaker and a squadron of swans swimming in the classic V formation borrowed from the RAF, which shows a wave travelling from the middle of a river to the banks and caused entirely by the swans. (Maybe the anglers have the right idea in wanting rid of them, as we all know they can break a childs' arm with their wing as well).

Number three, you'd be surprised, but there are those of us who don't do much white-water but go boating to enjoy watching the wildlife and the world go by. If we disturbed it in any serious way then it would be pretty pointless doing it (...quiet at the back the white-water warriors).
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Post by callwild »

Possibly the only reason for a level marker is to give an indication of when there is enough water to give clear passage over the spawning beds during spawning season.
On the Greta this has been set at a sensible level for November & December only. At other times of the year there is no minimum set, this gives virtually unrestricted all year paddling.
To suggest that there needs to be a minimum in the summer as well on the Cocker, for the same environmental reason doe not make sense.

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Post by geyrfugl »

EA person:
...but our guidance remains that the case law does not support a general public right of navigation. I am not versed in law, but my lay assumption would be that the case law establishes that the bed of the river is private to the riparian owner and as such activites on or over said "land" require the riparian owners permission.
Case law may not support a general public right of navigation, but neither does it support the absence of such a right - it has simply not been adequately tested in law. "No evidence for" is NOT remotely the same as "evidence against".

And the lay assumption there is poppycock. I ski where I like on the basis that snow is part of the atmosphere (watch it drift!) and as long as there is 100% snow cover I am not on the land, but in the air. I have as much right to be there as a commercial airliner (don't see many gamekeepers shooting at them :-) and a similar argument works for water, as it is free flowing and NOT part of the land.

And if I get pinned, I should be suing the landowner for leaving a part of his land or vegetation sticking up :-)

Andy

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Post by Adrian Cooper »

Debaser wrote: The only impact we might have is disturbing gravels on the bed of a river either by scraping the hull or with a paddle blade. However, I couldn't find anything which referred to the depths below the surface of the river-bed where eggs are layed by various species of fish, and which would obviously have a direct link to the amount of potential damage we might cause. Very important information, noteable by its' absence.
I did hunt for this info a couple of years ago and did find information on salmon spawning beds. I can't quote details but IIRC they like larger size gravel say 1'' diameter to golf ball size and they excavate a pit about 1 foot deep, lay the eggs and then cover over. Presumably the newly hatched fry (or whatever special name they have) swim between the gaps and this is why salmon don't use smaller gravel.

It would seem reasonable to assume that 'safe' passage would avoid distrubance of the river bed.

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Post by Debaser »

geyrfugl wrote;
Case law may not support a general public right of navigation, but neither does it support the absence of such a right - it has simply not been adequately tested in law. "No evidence for" is NOT remotely the same as "evidence against".
That is now my stance for what it's worth. Why should the presumption be that you need to legislate to give a right, rather than assume one exists and then have to legislate to remove it?


Adrian Cooper wrote;
It would seem reasonable to assume that 'safe' passage would avoid distrubance of the river bed.
If you can float then you're OK? Seems reasonable to me.

I have been staggered by the research that exists (or doesn't) and which also seems to completely miss the point, e.g. cruise liners = motor boats = jetskis = kayaks. Maybe Brighton Uni shouldn't be singled out for providing 'dodgy documents', they apparently exist wherever supposedly rigorous scientific research is carried out.
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Post by callwild »

Adrian Cooper said
did hunt for this info a couple of years ago and did find information on salmon spawning beds. I can't quote details but IIRC they like larger size gravel say 1'' diameter to golf ball size and they excavate a pit about 1 foot deep, lay the eggs and then cover over. Presumably the newly hatched fry (or whatever special name they have) swim between the gaps and this is why salmon don't use smaller gravel.
As Adrian has said there is information out there, and also clear laws about disturbing the gravel beds, BUT surely all the reasons are for disturbance during the spawning season, this Cocker agreement is the first time I have heard a suggestion that there should be a minimum level in case these spawing beds are disturbed at other times of the year and seems that the fishermen are jumping on the environmenal bandwagon as they realise that canoeists do want to take environmental issues seriously and they can now try and extend these grounds to suit their aims. This and the silly health and safety scare tactics.

If there is enough water to be able to paddle it is extremely unlikely that any serious disturbance of gravel on the bed of a river will be incurred. So really this problem controls itself most of the time, but guideline levels in the spawning season are quite a good idea for visitors new to an area who may not know reasonable levels on a river they have not done before.

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