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We live in a divided UK …. which you perpetuate

Comment 5th July 2010

We live in a divided UK …. which you perpetuate by allowing different laws and benefits depending where you happen to live …

 

I started off this letter wanting to air my view on rights of access for canoeists  (see below) but in reality government is  dividing this country and its people either give Scotland and Wales independence and introduce border controls together with work permits and should they become expelled from the uk they would need to apply to join the EU……or extend the privileges afforded there now a unify this country.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

 

Over 98% of rivers in England and Wales have no public access. England and Wales are two of the hardest places to gain access along rivers.  This is different from most of the world where access along inland waterways is open to all users without restriction. We all have “Freedom to Roam” but not “Permission to Paddle.”

 

The ability to paddle down a river is essential for canoeists.  We use water for recreation and competition, leaving only ripples and taking only photographs.  No harm is done to wildlife or the water environment.  We would like to be able to access to inland water in the same way as we access footpaths and other public rights of way.

 

Canoeing is an established, active water sport and it:

  • promotes a healthy life style, 
  • enables individuals to acquire life-long skills, contributing to their personal and social development.
  • is enjoyed by all ages, gender, race and ability
  • is not socially exclusive
  • is an affordable means of getting “on the water” for everyone
  • is an increasingly popular recreation especially for the young and retired. 

 

.

 

Why does this matter?

Over two million people a year go canoeing

Canoeing does contribute to local economic development and employment through the developing canoe trade and associated activities.  Canoeists travel to other areas for canoeing events and to paddle on different waters thus also contributing to the local economy through their tourism. By opening up access the numbers of visitors days will be significantly increased and the local / rural economies helped.

 

British canoeists have an enviable record of international results at every level of competition including Olympic, World and European Championships. Canoeing is a very diverse sport with disciplines ranging from sprint and marathon racing to slalom, polo and surf, canoe sailing and freestyle.

 

Restricted access to water is a problem for us all, not just canoeists.  Swimmers, boaters, gorge walkers, rowers and anyone wishing to participate in watersport are restricted to using rivers that have undisputed access or where restrictive permission has been granted. 

The Countryside Agency Access Demonstration Project, is currently trying to implement voluntary access agreements on the four rivers highlighted in the last study.  Whilst the British Canoe Union are working with the Environment Agency with the implementation grave concerns are expressed, as in the last 40 years voluntary access agreements have proved to be neither workable, or sustainable.

 

As one of your constituents, I urge you to support the fact that there should be greater and equitable access to the waterways.

 

We feel that all rivers and waterways should be open to the public in the same way we are free to use footpaths and highways and Public Rights of Way.

Please support your local canoeists and also all those who feel that there should be equitable access to the waterways in England and Wales as in Scotland through the Scottish Land Reform Act 2003 which would provide a suitable model.  (The research undertaken in 1999 in preparation for the CroW Bill showed that 69% of the public were in favour of increasing access to the water for canoeing and rowing.

 

There is an established Rivers Access Campaign www.riversaccess.org which I suggest you have a look at……..give all inhabitants of the uk the same rights…..in all things

 

 

Yours sincerely

 


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