Waterways for Everyone - Gov Strategy

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quicky
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Waterways for Everyone - Gov Strategy

Post by quicky » Mon Dec 21, 2009 12:51 pm

At last it is out .. Interesting it is now called Waterways for everyone!! Access??????

Please, please, comment on this in as much detail as you can and get in touch with them.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Consultation on the Government's Strategy for the Inland Waterways of England and Wales - Waterways for Everyone


Defra has today launched a consultation on an updated Government strategy for the inland waterways of England and Wales – “Waterways for Everyone”.
Waterways for Everyone sets out the Governments strategy for further enhancing the public benefits of inland waterways by widening the involvement of stakeholders and by supporting the management and development of the waterways.

The consultation and details of how to engage with and respond to the consultation can be found on Defra’s website at
www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/waterways/index.htm

We welcome views and comments from all of you with a potential interest in our waterways and who stand to gain from their vibrancy and greater use i.e. members of the public, waterway authorities, non-governmental organisations, local authorities and communities, regional development agencies, associated businesses and user groups. If you are aware of anyone or any organisation that might be interested in seeing and commenting on the consultation paper but is not listed, please let us know (via the contact point in below) and we will also seek their views.

Please e-mail responses no later than 26 March 2010 to: wferesponses@defra.gsi.gov.uk

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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Adrian Cooper
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Re: Waterways for Everyone - Gov Strategy

Post by Adrian Cooper » Tue Dec 22, 2009 1:10 pm

I think they are only talking about canals and managed rivers as indicated on the map in the consultation paper:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consu ... x1-map.pdf

I would be surprised if they are considering extending the scope of access.

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quicky
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Re: Waterways for Everyone - Gov Strategy

Post by quicky » Tue Dec 22, 2009 2:44 pm

As far as I know they are talking about all waterways Inc all looked after by British Waterways, EA, Broads Autority but it is only re. England and Wales

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Re: Waterways for Everyone - Gov Strategy

Post by chrism » Tue Dec 22, 2009 3:51 pm

The policy does not aim to address lakes (except those that are part of through navigations) and smaller unregulated rivers (which may be navigable by small unpowered craft such as canoes).

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Re: Waterways for Everyone - Gov Strategy

Post by ChrisS » Tue Dec 22, 2009 6:53 pm

The document is quite positive about the benefits of canoeing. Perhaps it would be worth making the point that the managed waterways system doesn't provide suitable conditions for many canoeing disciplines and the policy should aim to look at smaller unregulated rivers (and lakes).

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Re: Waterways for Everyone - Gov Strategy

Post by Wildswimmer Pete » Wed Dec 23, 2009 9:58 am

quicky wrote:As far as I know they are talking about all waterways Inc all looked after by British Waterways, EA, Broads Autority but it is only re. England and Wales
That's 'cos Scotland's waters already are for everyone.

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Re: Waterways for Everyone - Gov Strategy

Post by twopigs » Wed Dec 23, 2009 10:16 am

quicky wrote:As far as I know they are talking about all waterways Inc all looked after by British Waterways, EA, Broads Autority but it is only re. England and Wales
Is that why they invited the BCU and CE to contribute? But not Canoe Wales?
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Re: Waterways for Everyone - Gov Strategy

Post by quicky » Wed Dec 23, 2009 10:31 am

Your guess is as good as mine on that one.

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Re: Waterways for Everyone - Gov Strategy

Post by kieronymous » Wed Dec 23, 2009 12:19 pm

RE: Chapter 7, Question 10, I've had a crack at a form letter / petition type thing that many could sign up to, united voice etc.

Knocked up in half an hour and very much a first draft! Comments welcome. Anybody keen to take this further?

Chapter 7, Question 10: Do you agree that inland waterways, including their paths and surrounding environments provide an important resource for outdoor recreation, sport and improving public well being? What more can be done to protect and improve these important resources?

To the first part: Yes.

To the second part:

We feel that specific inclusion and consideration of whitewater paddlesports (kayaking, canoeing, rafting etc.) is required. Waterways suitable for such recreation (steep, usually relatively low discharge, "up in the hills") tend to be privately 'owned' and in limited cases this can cause dispute between landowners, paddlers and other stakeholders such as anglers.

In many cases, landowners are tolerant of passages undertaken on their waterways, and choose not to implement the letter of the law regarding trespass. Anglers too, despite their having paid to engage in their hobby, are generally quite accepting of a paddler's wish to pass in as inobtrusively a manner as is reasonably practicable. Nevertheless, mutual resentment is not uncommon, a minority of anglers espousing their fishing licences as 'divine right' (procured by payment!) to undisturbed use of the river, and many paddlers refusing to recognise that the right to catch fish is also a right to exclude overlapping interests.

In whitewater recreation there is often a requirement to inspect the river from the banks to ensure safe progress can be made. In some extreme cases, river conditions present an unacceptable risk. This may be a result of rising water levels, fallen trees or other 'strainers', collapsed structures, etc.

In such cases we plead for an understanding of the paddler's only remaining option, to walk around ('portage') the obstacle, or indeed leave the river and return whence they came, by the shortest and/or safest route. This may require a crossing of private land. Most paddlers would risk accostment or arrest over death, and we are certain that everyone would accept this as good sense.

An attempt to allow unfettered access to the river and marine environment has been adopted in New Zealand via the "Queen's Chain", where many river banks are public land for a horizontal 'buffer' distance of approximately 20m from the water's edge, by royal decree (Victoria, 1840). The water itself is effectively publically owned, as is the river bed. This applies to many sections of coast as well. The system was set up partially in response to the reverance in which water and waterways are held by the indigenous Maori culture.

In effect, though the Queen's chain is not universally applied, and in certain environments such as deep gorges paddlers may venture still further from the river, there is a culture of 'universal rights' to the water and its immediate surroundings among New Zealand's citizens and residents. This would appear to be well aligned with the intent of "Waterways for Everyone".

As a result, altercations of the type unfortunately much more common in Britain are rare to nonexistent in NZ. Mutual understanding, respect, and indeed participation are widespread. The recreation stakeholder organisations Fish & Game NZ and the NZ Recreational Canoeing Association are united in their advocacy and defence of wild river environments, where developments such as power or irrigation schemes may threaten the natural order.

Of course, with many British rivers in private hands, we cannot expect such a system to be implemented by law overnight, indeed at all. Nevertheless we invite your consideration of the issue, and would welcome, discuss and support any suggested means by which such a culture of mutual understanding and tolerance as described might be brought into being.

We also have concerns about the definition of 'navigable' etc...?
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quicky
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Re: Waterways for Everyone - Gov Strategy

Post by quicky » Wed Dec 23, 2009 1:12 pm

Of course, with many British rivers in private hands
Rivers are not in private hands. Although the land around them is in some cases, it's just the landowner like to think they own the water.

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Re: Waterways for Everyone - Gov Strategy

Post by kieronymous » Wed Dec 23, 2009 2:47 pm

Yeah... my understanding isn't clear. I've been told they own the riverbed, but not the water.

Always thought that was a crazy concept! Presumably if that's the case then you're not trespassing until you hit a rock or otherwise contact the bed. How does it work for aircraft? Ignoring civil aviation rules, is there a certain altitude below which you're effectively trespassing?

I know some countries take 'ownership' of land to mean ownership of everything immediately between the polygon in question and tapering to the centre of the earth. Ditto upwards to varying altitudes. Kinda puts the whole concept of 'land ownership' in a questionable light doesn't it!

Is there a definitive description anywhere?

What do you think - in general - of the idea of a signed petition/letter?
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kieronymous
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Re: Waterways for Everyone - Gov Strategy

Post by kieronymous » Wed Dec 23, 2009 3:10 pm

Starting to stray off topic, but interesting article here appears to answer the question WRT UK:

http://property.timesonline.co.uk/tol/l ... 576715.ece

“for whoever owns the soil, it is theirs up to the sky and down to the depths”

So presumably anyone on Heathrow's flightpaths can sue?!

"...you certainly own the land to at least 2,800ft down, but law has yet to go any deeper than this."
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Re: Waterways for Everyone - Gov Strategy

Post by chriscw » Wed Dec 23, 2009 3:39 pm

Normally governments in general and this one in particular seem to achieve the opposite of what they set out to do. I'm afraid that I can only muster half a cheer for this.
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Re: Waterways for Everyone - Gov Strategy

Post by ChrisS » Wed Dec 23, 2009 5:03 pm

What do you think - in general - of the idea of a signed petition/letter?
Multiple submissions of essentially the same response, or single responses with multiple signatures, will inevitably be treated as a single response. As with the Assembly for Wales Sustainability Committee consultation*, it would be more effective if people interested in responding could do so in their own words.

*IMO the anglers made a tactical mistake in organising their "pledge" petition instead of encouraging individuals to respond personally.

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Re: Waterways for Everyone - Gov Strategy

Post by ChrisS » Wed Dec 23, 2009 5:34 pm

This access petition only got 65 signatures. Hardly surprising considering how it is drafted.

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Re: Waterways for Everyone - Gov Strategy

Post by MatSav » Sun Dec 27, 2009 4:07 pm

In my opinion, the Strategy is not being driven by a need for access. What is missing in the title is "paid", "by" and "user". It should really be titled "Waterways Paid for by Every User".

There's another Government document, the Operational Efficiency Programme: Asset Portfolio in which it is suggested that British Waterways becomes a "Mutual" - that basically means funded by anyone who is a user of the waterways and their immediate environment, with a possible end to the grant-in-aid currently paid to British Waterways by DEFRA. Over on news:uk.rec.waterways (a Usenet Group, for those of you that know what they are!), there's a lot of discussion about this suggestion and the possible implications.

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Re: Waterways for Everyone - Gov Strategy

Post by MatSav » Sun Dec 27, 2009 4:35 pm

kieronymous wrote:Yeah... my understanding isn't clear. I've been told they own the riverbed, but not the water...
I know some countries take 'ownership' of land to mean ownership of everything immediately between the polygon in question and tapering to the centre of the earth. Ditto upwards to varying altitudes. Kinda puts the whole concept of 'land ownership' in a questionable light doesn't it!

Is there a definitive description anywhere?
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer (or land agent, or similar)! As I understand it, in the UK, no-one other than the Crown actually owns any land - but 'title' to any land can be granted by the Crown, either as freehold or leasehold - and these titles can be transferred by sale or inheritance.

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