***AN UPDATE/RESPONSE FROM CANOE ENGLAND'S RICHARD ATKINSON***
The arrangement was initiated by the Environment Agency and Local Authorities (main riparian landowners) in an attempt to increase the sustainable use of the river by paddlers following the development of Manvers Lake and a demand for the river to be paddled by local people. At the initial discussions, it was highlighted that anglers had used the river for several years but mainly as a free resource with only two small angling clubs leasing the fishing rights from the EA. Discussions became quite hostile between groups and it was decided that the EA would commission a firm of independent facilitators to move things forward. One of the main arguments from the anglers where the presence of spawning gravels and the issue of canoeists disturbing them. EA Fisheries Scientist have confirmed through routine fish survey work that the river does contain important gravels on certain sections of river where barbel and dace ‘dig out’ redds to lay their eggs.
Please find attached our policy regarding Access Arrangements –this is currently being reviewed following recent discussions with our Waterways Advisors so further information will be available soon. I suggest that my colleague Chris Hawkesworth and myself (we have both been included in discussions with the agreement) meet up with you to discuss the agreement as I feel emailing is not the appropriate method of discussing the matter further. I am happy to bring details of the steering group etc with me.
Canoe England’s Position Statement
Voluntary Access Arrangements
In England there is a lack of clarity and certainty for access to and along inland waters for canoeing.
Where public access to inland waters has not been recognised Voluntary Access Arrangements (VAA’s) are a means to gain access for canoeing. These arrangements exist on a few rivers and typically provide highly restricted and inadequate access.
Government research for canoe access to the Rivers Mersey and Waveney has produced principles and benchmark provisions for Voluntary Access Arrangements (VAA’s); forming the basis of government policy for access to inland waters to be achieved by the voluntary route.
For consistency, Canoe England believes the research outcomes should be adopted as the national standard for VAA’s. The research has demonstrated that it is possible to achieve:
• 365 day access supported by an Access Code outlining responsibilities of all water users.
• 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
• publicity and information dissemination
Government policy is to make more provisions for public access to the outdoor environment. The research provides the evidence and foundation for wider access and public rights to inland waters. As an initial step Canoe England would seek to harmonize all existing and additional VAA’s to the principles established on the Rivers Mersey, Waveney, Greta and Mole.
A VAA shall not invalidate or erode public rights should it be subsequently established such rights exist.
The statement fully takes into account:
• Research has revealed that prior to 1830, there was general acceptance the public had a historical right of access to inland waters. Legal opinions since have continued to diminish this position to create a lack of clarity and certainty for access to and along inland waters for canoeing.
• Canoe England and the Government are aware that many attempts to negotiate VAAs have been unsuccessful.
Canoe England policy is to continue:
• the campaign for a statutory right of access to inland waters in England
• to investigate the existence of, and seek the restoration of, historic rights of navigation
• making VAA information available to paddlers and advise that the decision whether or not to paddle a water, rests with the individual and not Canoe England
• advising paddlers to take fully into account the environmental conditions and paddle only when these are suitable
Canoe England notes:
• The Governments response to the omission of inland waters from the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 by commissioning of further research. This research produced Voluntary Access Arrangements (VAA’s) on the Rivers Mersey and Waveney (2006) with a 365 day provision of access. The research has failed to produce VAA’s on schemes for the Rivers Teme and Wear.
• The Ipsos MORI post implementation review of the Rivers Mersey and Waveney VAA’s which found support for the arrangements was high, were generally well received; no disputes have been reported between river users, having more canoeists has actually enhanced the river experience for all, and businesses are beginning to take advantage of the Schemes.
• Similar 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 provisions for public access to the English Coastline in the Marine Bill.
Issue date January 2009
Waterways and Environment Department
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What does the Waterways and Environment Team do?
The Canoe England Access and Environment department was renamed the Canoe England Waterways and Environment department in July 2011, in order to better illustrate the changing nature of the roles and responsibilities the department has. “Waterways and Environment” better describes the wide range of activities that the team engages with, extending into regulation, legislation, liaison with agencies, navigation authorities and other organisations; plus the growing area of environmental management.
Access to and along water remains a key and challenging issue for us. Existing access arrangements have been maintained, as have efforts to gain access and resolve difficulties on inland, tidal and coastal waters.
The Waterways and Environment team, assisted by the Voluntary Waterway and Coastal Advisors in each region, provide support and advice to colleagues, members and other organisations. The work of the Voluntary Waterways and Coastal Advisors is invaluable; they provide the Waterways Information Service with local knowledge and contribute to the growing portfolio of canoe trails. They also act as Canoe England representatives when liaising with external organisations.
There are many aspects surrounding inland and coastal waterways that require the attention of Canoe England. Much of our work is to provide opportunities to increase access and participation, through providing more places to paddle and to counter any threats to our sport. We also recognise that working with members, partners and developing relationships with external organisations is also important.
2. Why is there an access to rivers issue?
Problems for canoeists and others who want to navigate along waterways or even wade in them can be said to have started in the 19th Century when a legal precedent was created. This precedent viewed inland waters as private and the property of the landowner who owned the river/lake banks. At no time has parliament passed such legislation. The legal position is therefore contentious.
In England and Wales the canoeist does not have an automatic right to launch on to any river. The legal situation is different from all other countries in the world, where canoeists are generally able to paddle large and small non-tidal rivers without seeking permission, as the beds of these rivers are not considered to be privately owned and not controlled by riparian owners.
Access to water was not included in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, despite the efforts of the BCU in the reading stages of the Bill passing through Parliament. Subsequent representations were made on this omission by the BCU to
ministers who recognised this as an issue. The then government subsequently commissioned a series of studies by the University of Brighton.
3. How much access to rivers have we actually got, according to the Brighton work?
Several studies have been commissioned by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), considering access to water for canoeists. We have labelled them “Brighton 1 to 3” as the same organisation has not only been commissioned to research them, but also implement them.
BRIGHTON 1 - WATER-BASED SPORT AND RECREATION: THE FACTS
BRIGHTON 2 - WATER BASED SPORT AND RECREATION - Improving Access for Canoeing on Inland Waterways – A Study of the Feasibility of Access Agreements.
BRIGHTON 3 – Improving Access for Canoeing on Inland Waterways, implementing the findings of Brighton 2
The government commissioned report "Water-Based Sport and Recreation – the Facts," published in December 2001, which established:
There are 68.310 kilometres of rivers in England and Wales.
2179 kilometres of these rivers have navigation rights.
There are over 66,000 kilometres of rivers with no access.
Less than 4% of the linear river resource in England and Wales has any public access or right of navigation.
Note: Canoes and other small craft can use narrower waters and, in fact, the smaller streams often offer the most interesting and challenging water, so the true figure for navigable rivers is substantially greater, and the percentage available, substantially less.
4. What are the Brighton Reports?
The government agreed to look more closely at rivers access, commissioning Brighton University to research the issues in the following report:
Potential Solutions – BRIGHTON 1 “Water-Based Sport and Recreation – the Facts" as published in December 2001.
The report considers the 8 following scenarios for addressing user wishes and the problematic issues associated with water-based sport and recreation:
Minor development of current planning policy and strategies.
Targeted purchase of services and revised funding arrangements.
Targeted acquisition of land and water rights.
Voluntary agreements with dedication.
Compulsory Access Orders.
A selective increase in statutory rights of navigation.
Statutory rights of navigation to all major rivers, canals and water bodies.
5. What is the Waterways and Environment Charter for?
The Charter sets out the views of Canoe England, concerning the legal situation and environmental use of the waterways of England.
Canoe England activities bring significant benefits to the countryside, users, local communities and society in general.
The Charter calls on political parties to develop an integrated package of measures that will further secure and enhance sustainable public use of the waterways. For over 50 years, Canoe England has tried to secure sustainable use of inland waterways in ways that do not threaten their natural beauty or wildlife. It has also lobbied for changes to, and implementation of, primary legislation in order to ensure permanent use of inland waterways as well as the English coastal waters.
Portages and combined canoe/fish passes are increasingly being required by navigation authorities, private landowners, communities and other organisations to help the environmental management of the waterways. Canoe England has expertise in environmentally sensitive land management practices as they are land managers and owners, with responsibilities for Symonds Yat in the Wye Valley and other recreational land and water spaces. This includes the development of portages and combined canoe/fish passes.
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of people canoeing and the sport remains the most popular watersport to date. Yet today, we continue to be faced with a lack of clarity and uncertainty about being able to use inland waters. Fewer than 4% of our rivers have undisputed public rights, and new challenges threaten the use of some of our publicly owned areas.
1. Are there rivers you can and cannot paddle?
There are many waters under the right environmental conditions which could potentially be canoed, but there is an assumption, by some individuals and organisations with riparian interests, that many of these unregulated waters are private, and use is not allowed, or shall be by way of a structured access arrangement.
Reference to the web site www.watercape.com
provides information for waterways with undisputed rights. Unfortunately though, canoeists are often challenged, even where there is an undisputed right.
Regional Waterway Advisor Teams can provide access information for many other rivers and can be contacted via the Canoe England website. Visit http://www.canoe-england.org.uk/riverin ... rvice.aspx
The choice as whether to paddle any waterway, regardless of it status, is an individual’s decision and should also be based on safety and environmental conditions.
2. Is Canoe England working towards Access Arrangements on any river?
Canoe England accepts that access arrangements may work well for individuals, small organisations and clubs as a requirement for them to navigate with that group, but these are not a means for securing public access.
Canoe England takes a pragmatic view on Access Arrangements. Whilst privately arranged, generally restrictive, and few in number, Access Arrangements make some
provision for those requiring a greater certainty of access at particular times. E.g. River Greta which is a Canoe England Agreement.
3. Can Canoe England expect non members to follow the arrangements made by them?
Canoe England would encourage all canoeists to work with Access Arrangements, where they exist, and especially where there are evidence-based seasonal measures to protect habitats to be taken into account.
4. Does Canoe England believe that using rivers is legal?
Canoe England accepts that the current perception in common law supports the position that where rights are not explicit, navigation may constitute as trespass.
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.
Ultimately, the legal position is a matter for the courts and the judiciary.
5. Should Access Arrangements also be about getting physical access to the water across private lands?
Access Arrangements, if in place, will include provision for access across private lands. I.e portage routes, where required.
6. Is the Scottish model of access through the Scottish Land Reform Act a basis for access in England?
Yes. The Private 10 Minute Rule Bill – “Public Access to Inlands Water” - presented by Dr Des Turner MP, and debated in Parliament in 2007 was largely based on the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. The Bill also included a similar Outdoor Access Code for all users and owners of the waterways and surrounding environments.
The Bill provided an opportunity to present before Parliament a potential solution to the Access issue in England. Sadly, although it got through its first reading, it was unfortunately, talked out during the second reading. Find out more -http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2003/2/contents
7. Could there be a conflict between encouraging new users to the sport and the extremely unclear access situation?
Yes. This is the great conundrum but we are informing new paddlers about the issues surrounding access, via the coaching service and membership information.
8. Does Canoe England work with other water interests and user groups?
Canoe England works extensively with other interest groups associated with the waterways and the surrounding environments.
The Waterways and Environment team, assisted by the Voluntary Waterway and Coastal Advisors in each region, provide support and advice to colleagues, members and other organisations. The work of the Voluntary Waterways and Coastal Advisors is invaluable; they provide the Waterways Information Service with local knowledge whilst also contributing to
the growing portfolio of canoe trails. They also act as Canoe England representatives when liaising with external organisations.
There are many aspects surrounding inland and coastal waterways that require the attention of Canoe England. Much of our work is to provide opportunities to increase access and participation, through increasing places to go paddling and to counter any threats to our sport. Working with members, partners and developing relationships with external organisations is also important.
Canoe England Volunteers - Canoe England volunteers are a key part of the Waterways and Environment team and we greatly value their knowledge of local waterways and coastal areas. Currently, we are working on better ways of supporting them with this extremely important work.
Members – We are keen to provide and receive information and views from our members through a range of avenues which include clubs, Regional Development Teams, Canoe England volunteers and full time staff. In addition, we will work with members to understand their concerns whilst also helping to recognise the disparity of views amongst them.
Sport England – We are commissioned by Sport England to deliver jointly agreed outcomes linked to our Development Plan as part of our funding agreement. Within this, we agree targets for our Waterways and Environment team as part of our Places to Paddle intervention.
DEFRA and other Government Departments - DEFRA’s environmental remit extends into legislation and policy for access and use of the environment. Canoe England is fully engaged with the relevant departments in government on all canoeing matters and, in particular, to press the case for rights to access to and along non-tidal waters. The whole area of access is massively complex, and Canoe England and the government disagree about the strategy for the delivery of sustainable access. Responding to consultations also features in this work.
Navigation, Port and Harbour Authorities such as the Environment Agency, British Waterways, and other navigation, port and harbour authorities and the Waterway Partnerships. – Liaison with these organisations will help promote sustainable access and mutual understanding within each partnership.
Statutory Environmental Organisations: We work in partnership with the Environment Agency on complex legislation such as the Water Framework Directive and Bathing Water Directive to ensure we deliver the maximum benefit to canoe access/facilities as well as protecting the natural environment. We also work with Natural England to ensure canoeists are provided with opportunities to paddle protected areas and habitats whilst also protecting the natural environment. More recently, we have consulted with the Marine Management Organisation to provide information on water recreation for the new marine planning system, as well as being involved in the ongoing consultation process of designation of Marine Conservation Zones around the English coastline.
Environmental Groups and initiatives, such as, for example, “Green Blue,” (http://www.thegreenblue.org.uk/
) and the Non-Native Species Secretariat, including their “Stop the Spread” campaign; this is to promote, and share ideas about good environmental practice on and off the water. We have also published environmental guidance such as “You, Your Canoe and The Environment,” and “Canoeing on the Sea,” and are developing ways to also support greening canoeing to individuals, clubs and the organisation as a whole.
Other water sport and recreation sector organisations such as the Sport & Recreation Alliance, plus the British Marine Federation, British Waterways Advisory Forum, Inland Waterways Association, Royal Yachting Association, and
water supply industry. With these organisations, we help to provide support for mutual interests and issues concerning inland and coastal waters.
Rivers Trusts – We, along with other partners, are developing a closer working relationship to deliver the requirements of the European driven Water Framework Directive. Rivers Trusts have access to huge amounts of funding to deliver practical solutions to improve the ecological quality of our rivers throughout England and Wales. We are working in partnership to deliver the recreational aspects of these catchment based projects.
Angling Trust and Angling Development Board – we are starting to develop a working relationship with AT and ADB to address many issues that we have in common including kayak fishing, health and social benefits of our two sports and the general water environment.
Non-Governmental Organisations such as the National Trust, Forestry Commission, and National Parks as providers of access and facilities to promote greater access for canoeing within their land ownership.
RSPB and Wildlife Trusts – We are working with these organisations to deliver practical help using canoeing to access the river for monitoring purposes such as otter and water vole surveys.
The work of the Waterways and Environment teams brings Canoe England into contact with a wide range of interests and sectors and the list is not exhaustive.
Environmental projects can have associated community benefits for promoting and developing canoeing opportunities
9. What is your current position on accessing rivers in England?
The area of access to and along inland water is extremely complex, and Canoe England and the government disagree about the strategy for the delivery of sustainable access across England. However, Canoe England is fully engaged with the relevant departments in government and is working with them on all canoeing matters.
Canoe England is advised that the current perception in common law supports the position that, where rights are not explicit, navigation may constitute as trespass.
10. What is Canoe England’s opinion on negotiated access arrangements?
Access arrangements are private and Canoe England accepts they may work well for some individuals, or small organisations/clubs as a requirement for them to navigate with that group. Access arrangements do not satisfy an unmet demand nor provide the clarity, security and permanence of public access.
As also stated by Canoe Wales, Canoe England:
Believe arrangements should meet the government’s tests for access – clarity, security, certainty and permanence.
Accept that private access arrangements may work well for individuals or small organisations but that these often do not meet the tests above for public access.
Recognise that access agreements or arrangements are tools that can be used for managing recreation; however they cannot be used for securing public access. Without securing access first, any voluntary regulation is unlikely to be successful.
Cannot regulate or police access arrangements or grant access to any waters. The decision whether or not to canoe is the responsibility of the individual canoeist. When doing so, full account should be taken of the safety and environmental conditions.
11. Is Canoe England or a representative of Canoe England negotiating any Access Arrangements?
Yes. For example, the River Dearne and Calder in Yorkshire, and Crake and Lune in Cumbria.
12. Will any negotiation on the River Dart keep to Adam Box’s guidance?
The Regional Waterways Adviser for the South West was incorrectly informed by Canoe England that only all year round Access Arrangements should be entertained.
13. 365 or Not?
There has been some confusion and debate over the Canoe England’s position for 365 day access arrangements, and we wish to clarify the position. Canoe England takes a pragmatic view to endeavour to arrange all year round arrangements, including environmental and other factors such as spate conditions.
Canoe England accepts that access arrangements may work well for individuals, small organisations and clubs, but these are not a means for securing the clarity and permanence of public access. The recent Canoe England Participation survey (November 2011) identifies a need for some Access Arrangements.
Access Arrangements, whilst privately arranged, generally restrictive, and few in number, sometimes make some provision for those requiring a greater certainty of access at particular times. Eg River Greta which is a Canoe England Agreement.
Canoe England wants to see an equal share in the use of the waterways. For Access Arrangements to work, they are dependent on other water users and the riparian owners’ agreement to secure access that is based on a self regulating management. Many factors have to be taken into consideration when developing and promoting Access Arrangements, which include the activities of other users, such as days allocated for shooting rights, angling matches and other pursuits.
14. Please can you explain why the Waterways and Environment team believe it is easier to answer to multiple emails instead of giving one transparent answer on a webpage or social media area such as Facebook?
The Waterways and Environment team are a very small team and they may be out of the office for several days at a time. With this in mind, for administration purposes and to ensure we keep track of enquiries sent to us, we prefer all access-related enquiries to be placed into a single Waterways and Environment department receiving point.
The email address for the Waterways and Environment team is - email@example.com
The Waterways & Environment team has now established a FAQ section on the Canoe England website and will update it as and when new issues and other questions arise.
The Canoe England Facebook page is a place to share positive experiences and information with each other, without expectation of a response either from one another, or from Canoe England. It is a place where normal Facebook interaction should take place, in line with both Canoe England’s posting guidelines, and Facebook’s own policies. It is not a channel for direct and specific questions to Canoe England; other, more suitable channels are available for this purpose via the Canoe England website.
15. Given the Rev’d Caffyn's work, and the belief of many paddlers that rivers have an open right of navigation, does this mean there will be no more Access Arrangements?
The Rev’d 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, nor 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 The Rev’d Caffyn’s, work nor its conclusion that 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. 16. Please explain what are the issues stopping Canoe England from doing the following: a) declaring that the Rev’d Caffyn's work shows that we have access to rivers, it has not yet been disputed and that the only access negotiations will be based about the physical getting to / from a river and not 'along' the river b) openly stating that support will be given to CE in the case of a legal dispute of the Rev’d Caffyn's work (i.e. if a land owner or riparian rights owner tries to bring a test case, you will support the paddlers) The Rev’d 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 and Canoe England do 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 The Rev’d Caffyn’s work nor its conclusion that 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. Canoe England recognises that a lot of watersports in England take 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. The financial costs involved with any legal action could be astronomical bearing in mind that it would be escalated upwards to, eventually, the House of Lords, European court and so on. Canoe England needs to balance membership
expectation as to how the money is allocated for their benefit and the promotion of the sport.
17. Given the links that new staff members have to the Environment Agency, will there be a conscientious effort to apply pressure to them to act within its remit of encouragement of all to use the water and to not favour one group of users over another as part of the ongoing RAC campaign?
We have always worked with organisations such as the Environment Agency to develop, and promote, recreational paddling, through working in partnership with them, and others such as Rivers Trusts, on specific projects such as the Water Framework Directive. Huge amounts of funding are available to improve the natural environment of certain rivers which do not reach a satisfactory standard. As a major partner, Canoe England will be seeking to include recreational improvements within these plans.
18. Wouldn't it be great if the Rivers Access Campaign worked with the clubs involved in “Go Canoeing,” to invite their local MPs to each of these events and get them out to enjoy our waterways en mass?
When the Waterways and Environment Charter was launched last summer, all MPs were sent a copy and invited to come and visit a local canoe club or centre or, if they weren’t available, for us to take them out on the water. Many MPs came along and others wrote in support of the Charter.
In addition, many clubs already invite their MPs to come down and meet them when they hold events to promote the sport and recreational side of canoeing. Many of these meetings have been reported in Canoe Focus but we are always encouraging our members and clubs to have links with their local MPs and others with political influence in their areas.
19. Canoe England and Government Policy for Access
Successive governments have encouraged canoeists to seek to negotiate voluntary access agreements. From over 41,000 miles (66,000kilometres) of rivers in England and Wales without a public right of navigation, only 812 kilometres of highly restricted access has been negotiated. Some agreements are for just a few days each year adding very little (1.2%) to the 4% of inland waterways with a public right of navigation. Ultimately, access is in the hands of riparian owners. If they refuse to engage in negotiation, there is no way canoeists can make progress.
The whole area of access is massively complex, and Canoe England and the government disagree about the strategy for the delivery of sustainable access. However, Canoe England is fully engaged with the relevant departments in government and is working with them on all canoeing matters. The government wants access by access arrangements /agreements but Canoe England has stated it can only support arrangements that meet the government’s tests for access – clarity, security, certainty and permanence. Find out more at: http://www.canoe-england.org.uk/waterwa ... angements/
The government and Canoe England both know there is a need for greater access to and along the waterways, but as Canoe England continues to point out, access agreements or arrangements are tools that can be used for managing recreation, however, cannot be used for securing public access.
20. Why does Canoe England ignore all requests to publish a comprehensive list of current CE-endorsed Access Agreements?
We do not know them all; however the ones we do know about are published. Some canoe clubs and other private individuals have local ones which are not made publically available because they are often only for their specific group of paddlers. We are working with our waterways volunteers to verify what exists.
21. If I go on, or in a river with no access, will I be committing trespass?
Many inland waters in this country, especially the smaller and upland rivers, are considered by some to be privately owned. To canoe on them without permission could constitute an act of trespass. Where there is no public launching point, or a public footpath to the water’s edge, it is necessary for the paddler to get permission to cross private land to access the water.
22. Does canoeing disturb fish/fish stocks?
Effects of Canoeing on Fish Stocks and Angling – Research and Development Technical Report W266
The above research, undertaken by the Environment Agency on behalf of the Angling and Canoeing Liaison Group – a group established to encourage communication between angling and canoeing communities – involved consultation with both canoeists and anglers along with independent opinion from a panel of ten experts.
The research found that there is no empirical evidence linking canoeing with damage of spawning grounds and stocks.
23. How many members of Canoe England are there?
Canoe England has 62,770 members.
24. What proportion of these members competes actively in the various forms of canoe competition?
Members taking part in competitive canoeing is hard to determine as there are thousands of local competitions covering a wide variety of disciplines all over the country each year and the numbers participating in these is not collected. However, the 2011 Canoe England Participation Survey and Sport Satisfaction Survey indicate that 21% of paddlers might compete.
25. What proportion of these members would describe their interest as recreational and touring as opposed as competitive?
A lot of members actually list a variety of activities including many who take part in canoeing recreationally and competitively.
26. What proportion of the budget is spent directly on the Access Campaign?
For reasons of commercial confidentiality, Canoe England is unable to give you the breakdown of access spend requested. The BCU accounts are published annually as
is a Companies Act requirement. It must be noted that 66% of our income is from UK Sport and Sport England, ring fenced for certain purposes.
27. What is Canoe England doing with the Rev’d Caffyn’s Work?
There has been a lot said about the uses of inland waterways in the past, and a considerable amount of the work has been undertaken by Rev’d Caffyn.
River Transport 1189 – 1600. Thesis by Rev’d Caffyn
For all with an interest in the law and public access rights to inland waters in England, the recently published thesis “River Transport 1189 – 1600” by the Rev’d Caffyn has stimulated much interest. This latest research on inland waters has gained him the degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Sussex.
The thesis, and a supporting synopsis of this work entitled “Boats on our Rivers Again” follows on from his earlier work, “The Right of Navigation on Non-Tidal Waters and the Common Law 2004.” All are available at www.caffynonrivers.co.uk
The Rev’d Caffyn challenges the present day understanding of the law that all unregulated rivers are private (rivers without an active navigation authority); and considers there is public access to these waters. The Rev’d Caffyn has concluded that:
1. All rivers which were physically usable were legally usable.
2. There is a high probability that each section of a river which is now physically usable was usable by small boats in the period 1189-1600.
3. On the balance of probabilities, each section of a river which is now physically usable was used during that period.
4. There is therefore, a public right of navigation on all unregulated rivers which are physically usable.
The BCU or Canoe England does not have the legal expertise to either accept or challenge the Rev’d Caffyn’s work.
Canoe England and the BCU are not aware of any meaningful challenge to the Rev’d Caffyn’s work nor its conclusion that 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. The Rev’d Caffyn’s historical research has made a key contribution in making a case for the restoration of rights to non-tidal waters.
Canoe England recognises that only the judicial system can interpret the law and that neither it, nor the BCU, is a legal authority.
Any different interpretation can only be proved in a court of law and, as any decision, is likely to be challenged right up to the highest court in the land.
Substantial funding would need to be set aside for such an action to be pursued.
Rivers Access Campaign
1. What does it do and why?
The Rivers Access Campaign is managed by Canoe England through a very small team but is supported by all the staff as they go about their daily work promoting the issue, as and when possible. This is the same for many volunteers who attend meetings on our behalf (Local Access Forums/National Park Meetings/Waterways Partnership meetings/Marine and coastal meetings/environmental groups etc etc) as well as promoting the issue locally and nationally. This can be from lobbying their MP/Local Authority/Local Enterprise Partnerships/River User Groups, to running events to promote canoeing such as a “Go Canoeing” session to show the benefit of the sport for all and how more could be done if there was clarity and certainty of access.
In essence, in England, we have a natural heritage which provides great opportunities for open-air recreation and education. Open-air recreation provides people with great benefits for their health and well-being, and contributes to the good of society in many other ways, and allows the Campaign to show what a brilliant sport canoeing is, and at the same time, constantly promoting the access issue.
Existing measures currently being considered by the government, such as Access Arrangements, do not satisfy demand nor deliver consistent, long-term access improvements or measures to protect wildlife and landscapes. A new, statutory, national approach is required for public access to inland waters in England or the restoration of historic rights. This will then deliver much of the wide-ranging benefits outlined by the governments in their various health, participation, and economic strategies.
A new, statutory, national approach such as a Bill could provide a realistic way forward, already proven through legislation elsewhere in the United Kingdom, by which statutory public rights of access to inland waters in England may be established, similar to those existing for access on foot in England or for access on inland waters in Scotland. It would provide for a more coherent, harmonised, access regime across most of the United Kingdom, thus diminishing what are at present, unnecessary and damaging disparities.
The Campaign is working with DEFRA, trying to promote the sport of canoeing (fundamentally from a recreational point of view, as most of the 2 million canoeists are recreational paddlers), its benefits to individuals, communities, education, and people of all ages and abilities, as well as the green nature of the sport. It is an uphill struggle, but they do recognise we need more access to and along waterways.
The campaign is a longer game. The current campaign activity goes back to the passage of what was to be the “Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000,” when the BCU lobbied unsuccessfully to have access to water included. Then as a consequence, the government recognised the situation and commissioned research from the University of Brighton - “Water Based Sport and Recreation: The Facts 2001”. The research findings fully confirmed the BCU claiming that public access to and along non-tidal waters was highly restricted. The historical research by the Rev’d Caffyn has made a further contribution to our position.
The campaign built on these findings and the subsequent studies commissioned by the Environment Agency to develop access arrangements that had limited success. The campaign continues to lobby Parliament; this has included a Ten Minute Rule Bill – “Access to Inland Waterways” that reached a second reading and drew further attention to our cause.
The campaign has also evolved beyond simply recognising an important recreational resource and taken the debate into health benefits, education, and community benefits across government, including their localism agenda. More recently, the Campaign has taken an increasingly active role in promoting the environmental well being of the waterways.
2. Who is the Rivers Access Campaign for?
The campaign is being undertaken by Canoe England on behalf of all members of the public. A website www.riversaccess.org
has been developed to encourage all members of the public, whether they are Canoe England members or not, to assist in raising awareness of this important issue.
It is not just canoeing that is hampered by this problem. Other pursuits such as rowing, swimming, fishing and walking all have the same problems. It is now time to have a legal position which avoids further conflict and allows fair access for all.
Canoeing is not seeking conflict with other river users. It wants to successfully co-exist to the wider benefit of the whole community, as canoeists do in Scotland, all over Europe and the rest of the world.
3. How many extra miles of access to English rivers have been obtained by the Canoe England Access Campaign in the last twenty years?
The Canoe England Rivers Access Campaign seeks to establish an assumed right of access to all rivers in England rather than focusing on individual rivers or sections of rivers.
Canoe England cannot measure the success of the access campaign in miles of access gained by the campaign. It is about ensuring clarity and certainty of access to and along our inland waterways.
4. Is there a timeline to get the Rivers Access Campaign moving again and to update / modernise the Rivers Access Campaign website?
The Rivers Access Campaign website is currently being rebuilt and will be launched shortly.