Canoe access


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The following is a wake up call, action is needed from all.

This is a report from the petitions committee of the Welsh Assembly Gov.


Access to inland water in Wales is a right of equity and social justice
The current situation regarding rights to inland water in Wales is confusing, untenable and unworkable; there should be the same right of public access as there is in Scotland, according to the National Assembly for Wales’s Petitions Committee.
“The rivers of Wales are a natural ‘gift’ that everyone should have the right to enjoy,” said Committee Chair, Val Lloyd AM.
“Access should not be based on the vagaries of permissions bestowed or ability to pay, but on the fundaments of equity and social justice.
“We believe there should be the right of non-motorised access to inland water in Wales as there is in Scotland.”
Val Lloyd made these comments as the Petitions Committee launched its report into a petition received from the Welsh Canoeing Association.
Welsh canoeists are calling for public access rights along inland water to be clarified and for there to be a statutory right of access in line with what has already happened in Scotland.
After a short inquiry, the Committee has formed the view that the Land Reform (Scotland) Act has clarified the situation in Scotland.
“We believe that the clear balance of rights in Scotland has inherently moved the access debate forward onto a more productive footing,” the Committee Chair added.
“Different parties in Scotland have been able to leave behind cul-de-sac positions concerning who has which legal rights on their side.
“We therefore suggest it provides a useful basis from which a unique Welsh model may be developed.”
The main recommendations of the Petition Committee’s report are:
• that a further more wide ranging inquiry be carried out by one of the National Assembly’s Scrutiny Committees with a view to bringing forward legislation in this area, to which all stakeholders would have the opportunity to submit evidence.
• that a full scrutiny inquiry should also consider introducing a mandatory code to accompany the legislation in order that a new right of access along inland water in Wales can be managed and regulated, including some attempt to develop an identification system for regular water users.
The Petitions Committee will now be writing to the Chairs of both the Sustainability Committee and the Communities and Culture Committee to ask whether one of them wishes to take forward the suggestion of a full scrutiny inquiry.
Full report - Petitions Committee’s short inquiry into Access along Inland Water


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Canoe Access "Report by the Petitions Committee"

Canoe Access "Report by the Petitions Committee"

Petitions Committee
Access along Inland Water
April 2009
Assembly for
Report of the Petitions Committee’s Short Inquiry into
Access along Inland Water
1. The National Assembly’s Petitions Committee agreed on 27 January to
carry out a short inquiry into a petition we had received from the Welsh
Canoeing Association. The petitioners were calling for legislation to
establish a statutory right of public access to and along non-tidal water in
Wales, along the lines of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003:
“The Welsh Assembly Government is urged to consider and implement a Bill to
benefit Wales that would enshrine access rights and responsibilities for the public
to and along natural resources in the same way that the Scottish Land Reform
Act encourages co-operative use of the outdoors for healthy, low impact
“This Bill must provide and permit access to and along non-tidal water in the face
of the massive lack of legal clarity and restrictions that exist at present, which act
as a barrier to sport and recreation and the promotion of Wales as a place to visit
for adventure tourism.”
2. The Committee’s short inquiry consisted of two discrete case studies: a
fact-finding visit to the River Teifi in Carmarthenshire/Ceredigion to
establish the key issues involved with different uses of the water; and a
formal meeting in the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh to take evidence on
the effectiveness of the Scottish legislation. This report summarises the
findings of our two visits and includes our conclusions and
3. We should like to thank all those organisations and individuals who
participated in our short inquiry and who made our visits possible. We are
grateful for the benefit of their expertise and for the time and effort they
devoted to responding to our requests for information.
River Teifi Fact-Finding Visit, 9 February 2009
Summary of Findings
4. We chose to study the River Teifi in West Wales because it is host to a
variety of different users including canoeists, outdoor activity providers,
swimmers, boatmen and anglers. The river contains stretches where
canoeing and angling co-exist and stretches where they do not. Coracles,
one of the oldest used vessels for navigation, are still found on the river
and the National Coracle Centre is located in Cenarth. There is undisputed
navigation on the Teifi estuary and a long history of attempted litigation
against recreational users further up-river.
5. Our overall objectives were to establish, by talking to a diverse range of
interest and user groups:
• The main issues of concern / agreement / contention among different
users; and
• The views of all bodies on the merits and demerits of how shared use on
inland water can be most effectively controlled, ranging from voluntary
access agreements to the petitioners’ preferred option of a statutory right
of access.
6. We held six sessions throughout the day, at Llandysul Paddlers Outdoor
Education Centre, Cenarth and Cenarth Falls. The key issues to
emerge were:
• We heard some passionate views, on all sides of the access debate.
• All groups agreed there was a lack of clarity and understanding about legal
rights and responsibilities (e.g. fishing rights, riparian ownership rights,
rights of access and of navigation), which significantly contribute to the
many different perceptions and assumptions regarding access rights on
the river. The best description we heard during the day was that the whole
situation is a “dog’s dinner.”
• Lack of clarity and understanding about legal rights is putting at risk – and
calling into question – the investment of public resources in promoting and
developing recreational participation and recreational facilities along the
• We heard about examples of conflict and poor relationships between
different user groups (especially in certain “hotspots”) - from abusive
behaviour and language, to ignorance and lack of tolerance, to claims of
disturbance of fish spawning grounds and damage to fish stocks.
• Yet there were also examples from other parts of Wales of where people
have worked amicably together to achieve mutual objectives, such as
voluntary access agreements.
• Both canoeing and angling make an important contribution to businesses
in their local area.
• Both groups also contribute to the amenity value of the river, and both
draw significantly on voluntary action from their different communities.
• Fishing suffers from the lack of one overall advocacy organisation,
although the Federation of Welsh Anglers has recently been established to
provide a more united voice for the angling sector.
• Most canoeists are not members of the governing body for the sport, the
Welsh Canoeing Association, and are therefore outwith a framework of
• Statutory bodies such as the Environment Agency and Countryside
Council for Wales do not currently have sufficient powers to regulate
different uses effectively.
7. More detail on each of our discussions is summarised below.
Llandysul Paddlers Outdoor Education Centre: Session 1
Ashley Charlwood Access Development Officer Welsh Canoeing Association*
Marion Bryant Director Llandysul Paddlers
Fioled Jones Member Llandysul Paddlers
Jethro Moore Proprietor Adventure Beyond
Cllr Keith Evans Llandysul Town Ward Ceredigion County Council
* Also in attendance were Richard Harvey and Nigel Midgley, Welsh Canoeing
8. The Llandysul Paddlers Outdoor Education Centre is funded by
Carmarthenshire County Council. We heard about the origins of the
Centre; how the paddlers club was founded 25 years ago by families
involved with local cubs and scouts groups; and how the Centre has been
developed over the years through grants from the Foundation for Sport
and the Arts and from the European Union. Some of the founding
members are still actively involved with the Centre and several members
of the club have achieved national and international success in their sport.
9. However, canoeing has a fragile existence on the River Teifi. Although
Llandysul Paddlers Centre has the support of both Carmarthenshire and
Ceredigion County Councils - the Centre provides an important resource
for young people in the area - and it attracts canoeists from all over Britain
(15,000 visits last year), the right to canoe at Llandysul is still reliant on a
lease from the Llandysul Anglers who gave the paddlers a 25-year access
agreement along a 700m stretch of river. Even in areas where landowners
have consented to access by canoeists along the river, paddlers quite
often experience hostility from anglers who have the fishing rights, and
have been threatened on a number of occasions with court action. There
was some concern as to the future of the Centre when the lease runs out.
Llandysul Paddlers Outdoor Education Centre: Session 2
Gareth Bryant Water Sports Development
Carmarthenshire County
Allison Rees Sport Development
Carmarthenshire County
10. We heard how the local authority has a five-year Leisure Vision for
Carmarthenshire1 that encourages young people and adults to take part in
outdoor recreation and enjoy the natural environment. The Council has
made a significant investment in the Llandysul Outdoor Centre over the
years and wishes to see people enjoy their sport there. We were told that
it was an aspiration to enable canoeist groups to paddle from Llandysul to
Newcastle Emlyn during the summer months; yet despite having the
permission of landowners at Newcastle Emlyn, access was still being
challenged by local anglers. The local authority seemed unsure over its
legal rights and thought that a change in the law would achieve clarity and
prevent conflicts between users. At the moment, all it can do to manage
different users is to avoid taking sides; try and negotiate time or place
zoning to avoid sensitive areas or times; and “keep the peace”. There had
been bizarre cases of the authority buying fishing rights it did not want
(and giving them to anglers) in order to secure access for canoeists, even
though the authority was not even sure that its fishing rights gave
canoeists the right to paddle. In a subsequent letter it was confirmed that
regardless of the need for clarification, the local authority insisted that any
activity it sponsored on inland waterways required the permission of the
Llandysul Paddlers Outdoor Education Centre: Session 3
Tim Greenslade Riparian owner Llanfihangel-ar-arth
Tonlas Evans Secretary Llandysul Angling Association
Ian Thomas Chairman Llandysul Angling Association
11. We heard how much members and visitors to Llandysul Angling club paid
to fish on the river (several hundred pounds each) and how the club had
supported the Llandysul Paddlers in the early days. The relationship had
deteriorated, however, because of the involvement of the Welsh Canoeing
Association and its “ambitious” plans for the Paddlers Centre. It was
argued that the quality of local fishing had also deteriorated, that the
number of angling club members had declined, and that the two were
12. We were told that the anglers, through the Teifi Rivers Trust, were working
hard to improve the welfare of the river - both financially and on a voluntary
basis - and that they were happy to share the river through agreements.
However they believed that “existing laws were unenforceable” and they
1 Carmarthenshire Leisure Vision 2007-2012
2 Letter from Ian Jones, Head of Leisure and Sport, Carmarthenshire County Council, dated 18 March
felt in a “cleft stick” as the police were not interested in pursuing civil action
against trespass.
13. In contrast, we heard from a local riparian landowner who supported the
paddlers in principle and who allows them to launch from the river bank
opposite where he lives. He had no strong opinions on wider access
issues but thought that “exclusive” rights for any one party would be the
wrong decision.
14. The feeling from the Llandysul Anglers was that all canoeists should have
an identification number and be required to have a paid licence or permit
to paddle. There was great concern that a statutory right of access would
lead to a loss of fishing licence revenue, and a need for compensation to
make up for the shortfall in income.
Llandysul Paddlers Outdoor Education Centre: Session 4
John Watkins Head of Recreational Policy Countryside Council for Wales
Phil Stone West Region Access Officer Countryside Council for Wales
Matt Strickland Recreation & Navigation
Environment Agency Wales
15. We heard that the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) had
commissioned an extensive review and evaluation of different approaches
to managing access, including international comparisons.3 CCW clarified
that the evaluations had not looked at statutory approaches as the brief
from the Welsh Assembly Government had been to work within the context
of existing legislation. Following the meeting, CCW sent us a copy of the
evaluation of exemplar water access projects in Wales,4 which was
initiated in response to Welsh Ministers’ wish to secure greater public
access to rivers and lakes in Wales for recreational use – through nonstatutory
means so far as possible.
16. Environment Agency Wales had recently published a strategic plan for
water-based recreation in Wales.5 We heard from the Agency that it finds it
difficult to license angling within its available resources – some anglers can
go several years without being checked. The Agency has no official view
on a statutory right of access and currently relies on education as the best
way forward. The Agency agreed, however, that it would welcome more
powers to manage recreational as well as fishing interests, including an
enforceable code of practice, which would make it much easier for staff to
police on the ground.
17. We heard from CCW that codes of conduct do exist in Wales but they tend
to be voluntary, and appear to work best where users buy into their values
or operate a degree of self-policing, e.g. rock climbing.
3 Managing Recreation on Inland Waters in Wales: a Review of Approaches, Countryside and
Community Research Unit, University of Gloucestershire, CCW Policy Research Report No. 07/4
4 Evaluation: Access to Water Exemplar Projects in Wales, G & L Hughes Ltd, CCW Policy Research
Report No. 08/27
5 A Strategic Plan for Water Related Recreation in Wales, University of Brighton, 2008
18. Voluntary agreements have been found to work best where public bodies
either own the land or the fishing rights, e.g. River Wye and Glaslyn
(where the National Trust is the landowner). There are some examples,
however, (River Conwy) where agreements are still unresolved after 20 to
30 years.
Cenarth: Session 5
Edward Fitzwilliams President Teifi Trout Association
Bob Bird Chairman Teifi Trout Association
Edgar George Vice President Teifi Trout Association
Jeremy George Solicitor Teifi Trout Association
Wayne Bishop Secretary Teifi Trout Association
David Griffiths Conservation Officer Teifi Trout Association
19. We travelled a few miles downriver (by road) from Llandysul to Cenarth to
meet representatives of the Teifi Trout Association. At the beginning of
January 2009 the Association had written to all Assembly Members to
object, on behalf of a group representing angling clubs, fishery owners and
riparian owners across Wales, to the petition by the Welsh Canoeing
20. The Association began by tabling a paper that outlined the history of the
Teifi Trout Association (TTA), which has been providing angling facilities
for local and visiting anglers for 84 years.7
21. The paper also detailed examples of conflicts between canoeists and
anglers, which have grown as a result of “large numbers of canoeists and
rafters illegally utilising TTA waters throughout the year.” We heard that
attempts to reach an agreement with the canoeists to limit paddling to
outside the fishing season had failed. In a second paper,8 the Association
accused Carmarthenshire County Council of “incompetence, ignorance or
otherwise” for utilising public funds to set up an organisation that has been
“allowed to flaunt the law of the land without any recrimination.” Like the
Llandysul Anglers, the TTA wanted to see a system of paid licences for
canoeists to use the river and be regulated.
22. The concerns expressed by the TTA were also echoed in a number of
emails and letters sent to Assembly Members by other angling groups (see
list of other submissions received, below).
Cenarth Falls: Session 6
23. We visited the National Coracle Centre at Cenarth Falls to talk to the
owner and manager, Martin Fowler. In his opinion, everyone should have
the right to use the river. He had set up the Centre 16 years’ ago, including
6 Email from David Griffiths, dated 13 January 2009
7 Teifi Trout Association – Canoeists/Rafters Dispute, paper by Edgar George
8 Teifi Trout Association – Canoeists/Rafters Dispute, paper by Edgar George, including article by Moc
the restoration of an 11th Century mill, but he was still unsure exactly what
his rights of ownership entitled him - or others - to do. Even though he
permitted canoeists to paddle along his stretch of the water, anglers had
put up “no canoeing” signs without his permission on the river banks he
owned. Coracles, which have been on the river for thousands of years, can
be used for fishing on the tidal water of the Teifi, where they are regulated
by the Environment Agency. Twelve people currently have licences to fish
the River Teifi for salmon and sea trout using a coracle, although the
Committee has since received an appeal from coracle fishermen about the
increasing cost of those licences.9
Other submissions received
1. Countryside Alliance, letter dated 2 March 2009
2. Countryside Council for Wales, position paper by John Watkins, tabled 9 February
3. Crickhowell & District Angling Society, letter dated 20 January 2009
4. Gittins, Michael, Brecon Town Council Fishing Committee, email dated 30 January
5. Marsh-Smith, Stephen, Chairman of Angling Trust, email dated 5 February 2009
6. Merthyr Tydfil Angling Association, letter dated 10 December 2008
7. Moore, Jethro, copies of newspaper cuttings and letters, received 19 March 2009
8. Rooney, Paddy, letter dated 2 March 2009
9. Welsh Rivers Habitat & Angling Federation, email dated 6 January 2009
10. Welsh Rivers Preservation Society, letter dated 17 January 2009
9 Email from Mike Elias, Secretary of Carmarthen Coracles, dated 11 March 2009
Scottish Parliament Formal Meeting, 2 March 2009
The Legislative Framework
Before the Act
24. From Philip Smith, Policy Officer with the Scottish Government, we heard
that the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 (“the Act”) is,
“one of the most advanced pieces of access legislation in the whole of
Europe and is, by and large, working well.”10
25. We were told by Rob Garner, Policy Officer with Scottish Natural Heritage,
that before the Act came into being there was an “uneasy balance”11
between the public not having clear legal rights and landowners or
occupiers having very few workable remedies against trespass or
irresponsible behaviour. It struck us that there were many echoes
between the earlier Scottish scenario and the current situation for inland
water in Wales, where, as we had found from our site visit to the River
Teifi, the existing legal framework does not provide a sensible or workable
foundation for managing people’s different requirements for enjoying the
26. We recognise, however, the misgivings that preceded the new Scottish
Act: many landowners and individuals with a commercial interest in angling
were strongly opposed to the proposal to extend the right of access to
inland water. They cited conservation grounds - such as the need to
protect fish stocks and sensitive habitats - for opposing access to inland
water, much in the same way that anglers on the River Teifi had expressed
serious concerns about the threat of access to spawning grounds and fish
27. However, we were told by Scottish Natural Heritage12 that following a
major public consultation before the draft Bill was published in 2001
Scottish Ministers had concluded that the concerns raised about the
difficulties of creating a right of access to inland water had been
overstated. In addition, they believed that the legal difficulties had proved
to be not as great as originally thought.
The Act
28. Part 1 of the Act came into force in Scotland on 9 February 2005. The Act
established the right of responsible non-motorised access to most land
and inland waterways throughout the country. The emphasis of the Act is
on local management of access, so it gave the 32 Scottish local authorities
and the two national park authorities - Cairngorm National Park Authority
and the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority - duties
10 Record of Proceedings column 18, 2 March 2009, Petitions Committee
11 Extract from para 3.2.18 of Access to the Countryside for Open-air Recreation, Scottish Natural
Heritage’s Advice to Government, 1999
12 Record of Proceedings column 29, 2 March 2009, Petitions Committee, quoting Draft Bill 2001
and powers to uphold access rights, including a duty to plan a
comprehensive “Core Paths Plan” system, to employ local access officers,
and to set up Local Access Forums.
The Code
29. The Act was accompanied by the Scottish Outdoor Access Code,13 which
sets out the rights and responsibilities of land managers and those
exercising access rights under the Act. Scottish Natural Heritage and the
access authorities have a duty to publicise the Code, and Scottish Natural
Heritage has a duty to promote the understanding of it. The Code contains
practical advice on behaviour by the public and land managers. There are
sections which explain how access rights extend to non-motorised waterbased
activities. For canoeing, rafting, rowing and sailing, for example, it
gives guidance on respecting the needs of anglers by avoiding nets or
other fishing tackle, keeping noise to a minimum when close to anglers,
and keeping a safe distance from anglers on lochs. It also includes a
section on fishing that explains that access rights do not extend to fishing
and that anglers need to be careful when casting, and so on.
30. New web-based Guidance on the Management of Access on Inland Water
is being developed jointly by a number of bodies, including the Scottish
Canoe Association (Canoe Scotland) and the Scottish Rural Property and
Business Association. The guidance is expected to be made available in
late spring 2009.
Access Forums
31. Scottish Natural Heritage convenes the National Access Forum, which is a
voluntary association of interested organisations formed to keep the
Scottish outdoor access code under review and to encourage responsible
management of land and water in relation to access. The Forum meets in
public twice a year and discusses any and every matter that is brought
before it.
32. There are also Local Access Forums that bring together different interests
to agree how to develop, manage and promote access locally. These local
forums are able to focus on issues of local importance: they advise on
access rights, rights of way and the development of Core Path Plans, and
they offer assistance in resolving disputes because they often know the
individual users personally.
After the Act
33. It was interesting to hear from Anne Gray, Access Officer for the Scottish
Rural Property and Business Association, that her post is part-funded by
Scottish Natural Heritage in order to assist land managers at a national
level with the introduction of the new access legislation.14 She has been
13 Public Access to Scotland’s Outdoors, Scottish Outdoor Access Code, Scottish Natural Heritage,
July 2004
14 Record of Proceedings column 109, 2 March 2009, Petitions Committee
closely involved in developing “sub-codes” or additional guidance aimed at
land managers, sometimes in conjunction with recreational bodies, and
she responds to members’ queries.
34. Anne Gray told us that the Act “relies quite heavily on common sense.”15
However, there was a need to build an “access culture” in Scotland.16
Access legislation in Scandinavian countries has been around for so much
longer, people there grow up knowing their access rights as it is instilled in
them from an early age. This theme was echoed in the written paper from
Eddie Palmer, Board Member of the Scottish Canoe Association (Canoe
Scotland) which referred to the long-term commitment to “re-connect the
people of Scotland with the land.”
35. The Scottish Anglers National Association Ltd is the governing body for
game angling in Scotland, representing 340 angling clubs and 150
individual members (about 31,500 members in all). Ronnie Picken,
President and Chairman of the Scottish Anglers National Association, did
not mince his words when he told us that,
“the discriminatory situation caused in Scotland by the Land Reform
(Scotland) Act 2003…has disadvantaged salmon and trout anglers,
devalued proprietors’ property and is currently destroying jobs and muchneeded
business in angling and other country sports.”17
36. Mr Picken was not opposed to the legislation itself, however, but how it is
interpreted, enforced and policed through the Access Code.
37. Ron Woods, Policy Officer for the Scottish Federation of Coarse Anglers
was unable to attend the evidence session in the Scottish Parliament, but
in contrast, told us that “the access legislation has had next to no impact
on coarse angling in Scotland.” On the one hand, he had no evidence that
the legislation had brought any improvement in resolving conflicts with
other users where they existed, but equally, he had no real indication that
conflicts had increased.”18
Conflict management
38. We heard from all the Scottish witnesses that there are “hot spots”19 where
inappropriate use or disturbances occur. The Scottish Canoe Association
(Canoe Scotland), for example, received 35 complaints on access
incidents last year, relating to six rivers and involving around half a dozen
people. More cases than that happened, but they were not reported.20
15 Record of Proceedings column 114, 2 March 2009, Petitions Committee
16 Record of Proceedings column 132, 2 March 2009, Petitions Committee
17 Record of Proceedings column 144, 2 March 2009, Petitions Committee
18 Email from Ron Woods, Policy Officer, Scottish Federation of Coarse Anglers dated 25 February
19 Record of Proceedings columns 15, 51, 120, 126, 2 March 2009, Petitions Committee
20 Record of Proceedings column 198, 2 March 2009, Petitions Committee
39. The example we heard quoted most often was conflict on the River Tay
where there have been local disputes between rafting and fishing interests,
and which continue to cause a degree of concern. In the opinion of
Scottish Natural Heritage,21 these spats are usually caused by “ignorance”,
and a voluntary framework agreement has now been negotiated between
the Aberfeldy commercial rafting operators and the Upper Tay Riparian
Owners Association.22 The view of the Scottish Anglers National
Association was that rafting, particularly commercial rafts have virtually
wiped out salmon fishing on the Upper Tay.23
40. The view of the Scottish Government24 was that conflict on inland water
was not a land reform issue so much as an issue of anti-social behaviour
and one that should therefore be dealt with by the appropriate authorities,
chiefly at a local policing level. The view of the Scottish Rural Property and
Business Association25 was that they did not want to overstate the
occurrence of problematic incidents as they boiled down to a few key hot
spots only. The Scottish Canoe Association (Canoe Scotland) felt that the
number of problems had been exaggerated.26
41. On the issue of managing potentially conflicting usage, we were interested
to hear that the Act enables access authorities to exempt access rights to
a particular stretch of water for a short period of time using Section 11
orders. This ensures that high profile, one-off events (such as the World
Fly Fishing Championships) can proceed with exclusive use of the water.27
42. The cost of providing infrastructure to allow increased, better or enhanced
access and the cost of maintaining those facilities is met locally by the
access authorities. They have received more than £8 million of additional
funding from the Scottish Government for access work across the board.
43. The Scotland Rural Development Programme is available for land
managers, community groups and organisations to fund local access
initiatives, e.g. paths, car parks, signposting and gates. Those funding
packages come under Axis 3 of European Union grants. There is also a
package of funding available for information and awareness, e.g. leaflets,
interpretation and so on.
44. In carrying out its duty to promote understanding of access rights and
responsibilities Scottish Natural Heritage has been spending in the region
of £1 million a year, although £0.6 million of that has been spent on
television advertising. The investment appears to be paying off, however.
21 Record of Proceedings column 15, 2 March 2009, Petitions Committee
22 Framework between Aberfeldy Commercial Rafting Operators and Upper Tay Riparian Owners
Association regarding the section of the River Tay between Aberfeldy and Grandtully, signed 3 April
23 Record of Proceedings column 147, 2 March 2009, Petitions Committee
24 Record of Proceedings column 16, 2 March 2009, Petitions Committee
25 Record of Proceedings column 126, 2 March 2009, Petitions Committee
26 Record of Proceedings column 209, 2 March 2009, Petitions Committee
27 Record of Proceedings column 223, 2 March 2009, Petitions Committee
Awareness of access rights among the general population has increased
from 30 per cent to over 60 per cent; the understanding of paddlers about
canoeing under the Code is in the region of 90 per cent.28
45. As for paying for access, the Scottish Canoe Association (Canoe Scotland)
told us that anglers pay for taking fish out of the water whereas canoeists
and walkers do not contribute in that way, and whereas anglers pay
towards the costs of stocking rivers and keeping them clean, the taxpayer
also contributed through investment by the Environment Agency.29
Other submissions received
1. Scottish Anglers National Association, paper by James R Picken, tabled 2 March
2. Scottish Canoe Association (Canoe Scotland), paper by Eddie Palmer, received
18 February 2009
3. Scottish Government, paper by Philip J Smith, tabled 2 March 2009
4. Scottish Natural Heritage, paper by Rob Garner, received 27 February 2009
5. Scottish Natural Heritage, Loch Leven National Nature Reserve Local Access
Guidance, June 2006 (tabled 2 March 2009)
6. Scottish Rural Property and Business Association, paper by Anne Gray, received
25 February
7. Sport Scotland, Out There, A sportscotland policy statement on sport and
physical recreation in the outdoors, February 2009 (tabled 2 March 2009)
28 Record of Proceedings column 65, 2 March 2009, Petitions Committee
29 Record of Proceedings column 215, 2 March 2009, Petitions Committee
46. We agree with a number of witnesses that the rivers of Wales are a natural
“gift” that should be within everyone’s right to enjoy. We therefore believe
that all people should have the right of access to inland water in Wales.
Access should not be based on the vagaries of permissions bestowed or
ability to pay but on the fundaments of equity and social justice.
47. It is likely that recreational use of Welsh rivers will only increase over time,
especially when organisations such as the Environment Agency and local
authorities have developed strategies to promote water use. Over 20,000
people go canoeing in Wales every week, and the sport grows by 9% a
year. We conclude there is therefore a need for current access
arrangements to change to adapt to new patterns and levels of demand.
48. We believe there is much complexity and confusion over the many and
varied rights in respect of inland water (sporting, fishing, riparian,
possessory, access, navigation) and which right has priority over another.
49. We accept that voluntary access agreements can work. We heard of
examples on the Wye and Glaslyn (see also the submission by CLA
Wales)30 but they can also take some time to secure; it may take several
years to bring all sides together into one room, let alone into one
50. We agree with virtually all the witnesses who gave evidence to this inquiry
that the current situation in Wales is untenable and unworkable. Quality,
clarity, certainty and permanency should be the watchwords for the future.
We conclude there is a case for reforming the current framework so that
there is a legal right of non-motorised access along inland water in Wales.
51. We believe that the mechanisms and processes of the Land Reform
(Scotland) Act 2003 go a long way to providing clarity and understanding
of the situation within Scotland. At the very least, the Act has effectively
established and equalised statutory rights and responsibilities; it has
clarified local authority powers and duties; it has created local access
forums to facilitate discussion between parties; it has encouraged
education to promote awareness and understanding of people’s rights and
responsibilities; and, importantly, it has led to investment in recreational
and environmental capital. We believe that the clear balance of rights in
Scotland has inherently moved the access debate forward onto a more
productive footing. Parties have been able to “leave behind cul-de-sac
positions concerning who has which legal rights on their side”31 and to
develop communication and dialogue over practical management
solutions, joint-working arrangements and monitoring. We therefore
suggest it provides a useful model for Wales to copy and adapt.
52. We understand, however, why certain groups may fear change and are
opposed to the introduction of new access laws in Wales. We recognise
30 Letter and attachments from Julian Salmon, Director CLA Wales, received 5 February 2009
31 Record of Proceedings column 39, 2 March 2009, Petitions Committee
that it will take some time to reach a proper level of understanding and
expectation about access rights and therefore would underline the
importance of instilling awareness and education from an early age. There
is a real need to develop mutual respect and better communication
between all sides of this debate.
53. We recognise there is a particular difficulty with policing conformity with the
Scottish Outdoor Access Code because not all canoeists belong to the
governing body, the Scottish Canoe Association (Canoe Scotland). In the
same way, not all canoeists in Wales belong to the Welsh Canoeing
Association. The anglers on the River Teifi suggested to us that all
canoeists should have an identification number and a paid licence to
paddle. There is merit in that approach, but would it be enforceable? We
heard from the Environment Agency that it finds it hard enough to license
just angling within its existing resources. A system of identification or
licensing is also difficult because people lend canoes to others. Difficulties
aside, however, we believe that there should be some attempt to identify,
at the very least, canoeing groups and commercial operators.
54. We acknowledge that both the Sustainability Committee and the
Communities and Culture Committee have responsibilities in the area of
access to inland water in Wales, and we will write to the Chairs of both
Committees in relation to our two recommendations below.
55. A new statute would ensure everyone has access to inland water in Wales,
and on an equal footing; it would provide clarity, certainty and permanence
and we believe that the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 provides a basis
from which a unique Welsh model may be developed. We recommend
that a further more wide ranging inquiry be carried out with a view to
bringing forward legislation in this area, which would give all stakeholders
the opportunity to submit evidence.
56. Statutory access will not work, however, without enforceable codes of
conduct for inland water so that environmental and other conditions can be
built in and common sense can prevail. We recommend that a full scrutiny
inquiry should also consider introducing a mandatory code to accompany
the legislation in order for a new right of access along inland water in
Wales to be managed and regulated, including some attempt to develop
an identification system for regular water users.
Committee Service
31 March 2009


Wheres the Fish

Wheres the Fish

I talked to a head of a canoeing organisation group the other day.We talked about migratory fish and the building of two new passages on the Tees. Him and his 100+ members didnt even know fish were in the same water they paddled in. The gentleman agreed with everything i spoke to him about the problem on our river.He took my e.mail and sent me details of their public meeting, and if in the future he could help me in anyway to get in touch.I urge more people to go straight to the main managers or organisations.Dont bother writeing to Trout and Salmon Magazine they dont listen.PB


New member
Copied from the original thread on this topic.

Gentlemen, my mind boggles at times.

We are anglers and as such members of the most popular participation sport in the country, spenders of lots of money but, most importantly, voters.

You must write to your AM and MP pointing out the consequences of unrestricted access by canoeist to our waters, particularly areas where redds occur and from which all "in water" access should be barred well prior to, during and well after the breeding season and hatching has taken place.

We have power in numbers but not of we remain silent.

Fingers our fellow forum members - fingers out.

I have a copy letter which I am willing to email to anybody who wishes to use it as a model, but you must juggle it a little to use your own words to avoid the suspicion that there may be an organised campaign.

You will be the first to complain when your fishing is *.*.*..



New member
I wonder what has to happen to actually motivate people.

We have to keep at it at times despite the angling community.

Anybody wants a model letter to use as the basis of one of their own? Just PM me and I will send on by return.