Access to Inland Water
If greater access is given to our waterways, participation in water recreation activities will undoubtedly increase, as over 90% of the population living within two miles of a waterway would be able to reach them more easily.
DEFRA should consider ways of moving towards a system where there is a general statutory right of access to inland water for recreational purposes.
- In England and Wales, there is no automatic right to launch a boat, canoe or other vessel, or to access the riverbanks of unregulated rivers.
- There are over 41,000 miles of rivers with no general access, meaning only 4% of linear rivers in England and Wales can be accessed for informal recreation.
- The situation is different in all other European countries (including Scotland and Northern Ireland) where access is more liberal.
- Angling is extremely popular and the sport is very successful at working with landowners to increase access opportunities.
- Access agreements do not work for boating activities (such as canoeing) as it involves negotiating with multiple landowners.
- The Scottish Land Reform Act 2003 has shown what can be achieved by using simple principles based on responsibility and cooperation.
- The Canal and River Trust is likely to be given responsibility of all navigation rights currently held by British Waterways and the Environment Agency.
- DEFRA should consider ways of moving towards a system where there is a general statutory right of access to inland water for recreational purpose.
For further information contact Martin Key
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