Dear supporter of Welsh rivers: important anouncement

There have been various developments which will require our attention over the next month or so –

1. ‘Workshops’ promoted by the ‘Access Sub-Group’

As you may have heard, the ‘Access Sub-Group’, which is affiliated to the WRWAG (formerly known as the Round Table Group) has decided that two worshops are needed to canvass opinion on how Voluntary Access Agreements might work.  Both are to be held on Saturday 26th February from 10.30am to 3.00pm and the two venues are:

– Owain Glyndwr Hotel, the Square, Corwen LL21 0DL

– somewhere nr Brecon, to be announced …

Whether we think these are needed or not, we must show willing and be prepared to turn up and state what we think.  Both these are restricted to 30 participants so it seems to me essential that at least 15 well versed angling club secretaries / riparian owners / land agents or similar turn up to each meeting to put forward our views.  You can be sure there will be no shortage of canoeists and probably ‘wild’ swimmers applying to attend, so, if you have not already done so,  could I urge you to apply today !

Please either ring Sarah Gilder of Resources for Change on 01938 555759 or email her on sarah@r4c.org.uk

When I find out more about these events I will get back to you with further information and suggestions as to how we might marshal our arguments.

2. WRMAG (Round Table) and the ‘Agreements Sub-Group’

At present there is no-one specifically representing the interests of and speaking up for the rights of riparian owners (who of course may be angling clubs) on either the main group or the sub-group.  Yet it is these riparian owners whose rights are likely to be most affected by proposals for access to and along rivers which the sub-group is tasked with promoting and which the main group will oversee.

I am therefore glad to report that the CLA have now been accepted as a member of WRMAG.  Arguments put forward and concerns raised by the CLA are likely to be similar to and support those made by angling interests.  When I hear the name of the person who will attend I will let you know.

What I think we must do now is to press for riparian owner / angling representation on the sub-group where “target rivers” are “identified” and arrangements for access are being drawn up.  You can see how much this sort of sensible representation is needed on the sub-group if you look at the Minutes of the first meeting (as circulated by Julia) and read:  “written agreements not proposed because (they) may deter landowners”  – whereas we know that more or less the complete opposite is true.

3. Referendum on more extensive powers for WAG

This referendum on 3rd March is likely to be very important in the continuance of our efforts in this access to rivers debate.  The Minister most involved, as well as other AMs, have made it clear in statements that they would very likely legislate in favour of ‘nationalising’ rivers to give complete unrestricted access at all times if they had the powers to do so, as the foolowing quotes illustrate:

“Following a referendum in Wales and new powers being acquired here, a Government of the future could choose to move down the legislative route.” Jane Davidson, evidence to Sus Comm 21.1.1

“We do not have legislative competence to implement some of our agreed recommendations and the Minister’s response states that should next years referendum result in a ‘yes’ vote, the Assembly would have competence in the future”. Leanne Wood AM, Assembly debate on the SC report 29.9.10

Leanne rightly highlighted that we are stymied once agin by a lack of legislative competence and that there is so much more we could do if that competence lay with us …” Jane Davidson, Assembly debate 29.9.10.

I think we should keep these views closely in mind when casting our votes and also when deciding which side of the referendum debate to support beforehand.  If you have not already done so, may I encourage you to visit the True Wales website  www.truewales.org.uk where there is a ‘no further powers’ petition and other helpful information.  As David JP says –  even apart from the access to rivers debate, do we really want to give Cardiff further extensive powers when there is no second chamber there to check any immoderate proposals ?

I will circulate these points about the referendum to my database of Welsh angling club secretaries shortly.  I would also be grateful if you could circulate this email to whom you think might be interested and – as it were – on our side.

Kind regards to all

Max

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