BCU POLICY STATEMENT ON ACCESS TO INLAND WATERWAYS (DRAFT)

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Adrian Cooper
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BCU POLICY STATEMENT ON ACCESS TO INLAND WATERWAYS (DRAFT)

Post by Adrian Cooper »

Well, we've waited long enough so let's start our own and send it to them 'agreed'. I admit to having cribbed chunks from various WCA and CE documents, including the environmental stuff which I have added wholesale. I would be pleased to heard contributions for improvement but I think the important thing is to keep it concise.

BCU POLICY STATEMENT ON ACCESS TO INLAND WATERWAYS


The Present Legal Situation

The following notes refer to England and Wales only. The law is different in Scotland where the Scottish Canoe Association can advise.

For many years, the legal status of rivers with regards to access by unpowered craft was considered to be unclear. There is no clear statute which renders rivers ‘private’ and the earliest relevant law, Magna Carta, decrees that all rivers shall be kept free for use by vessels. Following extensive research into the legal status of rights of navigation on inland waterways, including the dissertation by Rev Dr Douglas Caffyn ‘River Transport 1189 – 1600’, the BCU are now firmly of the belief that there is historically a public right of navigation by unpowered craft on all rivers which are physically usable.

Whilst the bed and banks of all rivers and canals are either privately or publically owned, the water is not and it is considered that navigating the river is legal. There is a right of access on all rivers and canals maintained as navigations subject to a payment for a license where required.

In nearly all cases there is a public right of access on tidal waters. The right may be subject to a payment of harbour dues and restrictions due to security/exclusion zones or use by the Ministry of Defence. The tidal limits on waterways are shown on Ordnance Survey maps.

Going to a private place without actual or implied permission could constitute an act of trespass so access to a river should be by a permitted or public route.


Voluntary Access Arrangements (VAAs)

The government has commissioned research into the use of Voluntary Access Agreements as a means of resolving differences between the various stakeholders and river users. Despite the executive summary provided with the report by Brighton University ‘Putting Pilot Voluntary Canoe Access Agreements in Place’, the report clearly demonstrates the ineffectiveness of this type of agreement for securing access to rivers.

The BCU has, for 50 years been pursuing the route of VAAs as a means of encouraging stakeholders to tolerate canoeists but in that time, the very small number of agreements resulted in access to some 2% of the canoeable rivers.

The BCU’s current policy is not to enter into VAAs and to cancel any arrangements which do not fulfill the simple criteria:

• 365 day access supported by an Access Code outlining responsibilities of all water users.

• consideration for specific events such as angling competitions, regattas and races subject to reasonable advance warning and notice

• environmental protection as appropriate e.g. setting a mutually agreed minimum river level

• respect of flora, fauna, other uses and users

• identified sites for launching and landing as necessary

• publicity and information dissemination

A VAA shall not invalidate or erode public rights should it be subsequently established such rights exist and any offer to restrict canoeists’ activities for whatever reason shall not be taken as acceptance that such an agreement will be in perpetuity

Where a VAA is in place the BCU will use its good offices to encourage its members to abide by the restrictions but will not be responsible for the activities of either its members or canoeists who are not members of the BCU.

Note
• 365 day access arrangements have been negotiated by Canoe England and endorsed by the Environment Agency, for the River Greta (2005) in Cumbria and River Mole (2006) in Surrey.

The Canoeist’s Code of Responsible Paddling

The UK has a network of inland and coastal waters that are amongst the best in Europe. It is important that everyone using these for sport or recreation does so in an appropriate and considerate manner. This leaflet gives generic good practice advice and explains how canoeists can best enjoy access to and along the water by acting responsibly.
In general treat others as you would wish to be treated, respect the environment and follow safety recommendations.
This leaflet is an extension of the Countryside Code for England and Wales, and the Scottish Outdoor Access Code that is enshrined in the Scottish Land Reform Act.
Adhere to these codes and use common sense, and you are likely to be regarded as a welcomed visitor.
Take responsibility for your own actions. The outdoors is a great place for sport, but it also a natural environment. Respects the needs of others to enjoy or earn a living whilst you paddle. Be aware of other users, hazards, act safely and follow reasonable advice.
Care for your environment. Do not disturb wildlife, leave the environment as you find it and follow a path or track if there is one.
Respect people’s privacy and peace of mind. When close to a house or garden, keep a sensible distance from the house, use a path or track if there is one, and take extra care at night.
Help land managers and others to work safely and effectively. Do not hinder land management operations and follow advice from land managers. Leave gates positioned as you find them.
Take extra care if you are organising an event or running a business. Ask the land owner’s and any other source of relevant advice in advance.
Caring for the Environment
Canoeing at appropriate water levels is an environmentally benign activity.
The Canoe is a traditional craft used throughout the world to observe wildlife and flora without disturbing it and for exploring wilderness areas.
Passage by canoes causes no erosion, noise or pollution, and leaves no trace of it passing.
By following the simple steps below you can ensure your presence is not detrimental to the environment:
• Find out about the area before you go, noting its sensitive places, species and breeding seasons.
• Leave no trace of your visit and take your litter home with you.
• Treat places with care, leaving them as you find them
• Keep noise to a minimum.
• Take care when scouting and when launching/landing along natural banks.
• Where possible keep to any designated paths or launching points.
• Avoid paddling over gravel banks in low water conditions.
• Give wildlife a wide berth to avoid recklessly disturbing.
• Report pollution or suspicious activity to the relevant authorities.
Consideration for others
Canoeists will meet a variety of land and water users on their journeys. Common sense and polite communications can help and avoid misunderstanding.
On land:
• Stay away from houses and private gardens.
• Change Discreetly. Use public facilities and WC’s where possible.
• Drive sensibly at all times.
• Park, so not to obstruct roads or entrances to buildings of farm property.
• Unload your kit with care and do not leave it in a manner that causes an obstruction.
• Gain permission to cross private property.
On Water:
• Follow the general rules of navigation and any local bylaws. Obtain any necessary licenses.
• Respect all other water users.
• Avoid collisions, and indicate your presence to other vessels.
• Keep the numbers in your party consistent with safety, the nature of the stretch of river and the impact on your surroundings.
• Be aware of everyone’s ability.
• Use suitable equipment in good order.
• Offer assistance to anyone in genuine need, on or off the water, but do not put yourself or fellow paddlers at risk.
• Show consideration for organised events and giveaway to their passage A little forethought can ensure that you can access and share the water peacefully.
Anglers
• Keep a look out for anglers whilst canoeing. Anglers can be hard to spot on the banks as they try to blend in with their surroundings.
• Co-operate with anglers to avoid lines, nets and swims - friendly communication can reduce potential conflict. If it is unclear where to pass lines or swims, then quietly attract the attention of the anglers and agree a route to follow.
• When an angler is playing a fish from the ban or wading stop some way off and await their acknowledgement. Do not linger in pools already occupied by other river users.
Water Bourne Fish Parasites
Fish in some European rivers and lakes may carry parasites that are harmful to fish. These can be transmitted to the UK’s rivers via wet equipment (eg on fishing tackle, or water sports equipment.)
The chances of transmitting these parasites to the UK by canoeing kit is low but please disinfect all gear used abroad before using a UK waterway.
Please refer to Gyradactilus Salaris info or check with the Environment Agency and your kit manufacturer for further advice. Remember to act responsibly and treat others with respect.
Environment Agency 24 hour incident reporting Tel: 0800 80 70 60

Allenkayak
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Re: BCU POLICY STATEMENT ON ACCESS TO INLAND WATERWAYS (DRAF

Post by Allenkayak »

I'd go with that and I would dearly like to see Canoe England / BCU issue something VERY VERY much like this.

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Re: BCU POLICY STATEMENT ON ACCESS TO INLAND WATERWAYS (DRAF

Post by chriscw »

Yes it looks superb to me well done. May I pop it in a letter to my MP? Oh an crib it mercilessly as a suggested code of practice for my club?
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Glyn B
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Re: BCU POLICY STATEMENT ON ACCESS TO INLAND WATERWAYS (DRAF

Post by Glyn B »

Excellent, makes a change that I have absolutely nothing to add or detract from the statement as written. Nice one Adrian :-)

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Adrian Cooper
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Re: BCU POLICY STATEMENT ON ACCESS TO INLAND WATERWAYS (DRAF

Post by Adrian Cooper »

chriscw wrote: May I pop it in a letter to my MP?
Sure, but let's wait for any feedback from the rest of the community. Indeed, I have already thought of something I would like to add about a committment from the BCU in the event of a challenge to one of its members.

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Re: BCU POLICY STATEMENT ON ACCESS TO INLAND WATERWAYS (DRAF

Post by twopigs »

• When an angler is playing a fish from the ban or wading stop some way off and await their acknowledgement. Do not linger in pools already occupied by other river users.
Did you mean "bank"?

By not lingering - do you mean "Don't hog the eddy?" :-D

Fantastic that you should have the time to pull that together Adrian - Now how do we get you elected to a position of responsibility at HQ?
Canoeing - bigger boat, broken paddle, more skill!

enjoyer
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Re: BCU POLICY STATEMENT ON ACCESS TO INLAND WATERWAYS (DRAF

Post by enjoyer »

This is a really great initiative.

Would it be useful to put in an explicit up-front statement outlining the benefits of increased access? This will help to "sell" the cause. Something along the lines of...

Why Promote Access

Increasing access to our wonderful inland waterways will:
  • promote tourism and local economies
    increase interest in and awareness of the natural environment
    encourage fitness and well being.

Well done:)

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quicky
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Re: BCU POLICY STATEMENT ON ACCESS TO INLAND WATERWAYS (DRAF

Post by quicky »

There are some documents that CE have on there site, might be interesting to read through.
There are a few docs which helps give Guidance on what and how

The you-your-canoe-and-the-environment is being updated apparently and the version is currently being printed and is now supported in addition by

• Natural England
• British Waterways
• Environment Agency
• Stop the Spread http://www.canoe-england.org.uk/access- ... he-spread/
• Port of London Authority

The old version is here for the mo..

http://www.canoe-england.org.uk/access- ... vironment/

All of it covers alien species.... etc

And it is also highlighted here...

http://www.canoe-england.org.uk/access- ... g-salaris/

etc.

The policy docs I found are here ...

http://www.canoe-england.org.uk/access- ... angements/

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dry suit tester
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Re: BCU POLICY STATEMENT ON ACCESS TO INLAND WATERWAYS (DRAF

Post by dry suit tester »

It gets my vote

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Adrian Cooper
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Re: BCU POLICY STATEMENT ON ACCESS TO INLAND WATERWAYS (DRAF

Post by Adrian Cooper »

twopigs wrote:Fantastic that you should have the time to pull that together Adrian
It really didn't take that long Paul. I had been thinking about it for a few weeks, I just needed to sit down and bash it out. As I said, quite a bit is cribbed but adapted.

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Re: BCU POLICY STATEMENT ON ACCESS TO INLAND WATERWAYS (DRAF

Post by Slime »

Excellent work Adrian.

If you are looking for a positive intro phrase then how about -

Canoeing is encouraged as an ideal, clean, quiet, healthy recreation that leaves no footprints and has minimal impact on the environment and wildlife. (

We used these words in the Canoe England Lakes leaflets which were backed by the National Park and the EA).

Keep up the good work,

Pete Knowles.

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Re: BCU POLICY STATEMENT ON ACCESS TO INLAND WATERWAYS (DRAF

Post by slowstroke »

Adrian, fantastic, and well done. Succinct and a document that should be adopted and put forward. Gets my vote.

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Re: BCU POLICY STATEMENT ON ACCESS TO INLAND WATERWAYS (DRAF

Post by Adrian Cooper »

quicky wrote:There are some documents that CE have on there site,

The you-your-canoe-and-the-environment is being updated

The old version is here for the mo..

All of it covers alien species.... etc

And it is also highlighted here...

etc.

The policy docs I found are here ...
As Emperor Joseph II said 'Too many notes'

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Re: BCU POLICY STATEMENT ON ACCESS TO INLAND WATERWAYS (DRAF

Post by John N »

twopigs wrote:Fantastic that you should have the time to pull that together Adrian - Now how do we get you elected to a position of responsibility at HQ?
Don't even consider it, it mght cost us a good chairman!

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