From W G Davies (Gary) Chairman MTAA to: Hannah Blythyn.AC, AM. Deputy Minister Local Gov and Housing

Mr. W.G. Davies:        Chairman.           3 Blanche Street,

                                         Dowlais,

                                                                                                            Merthyr Tydfil.

                                                                                                            CF48 3PE.

                                                                                                            01685 371981.

                                                                                                             07974806032

    E mail:W.GARY.DAVIES@sky.com                                                                                                                 3/6/2019

To:  Hannah Blythyn.AC,  AM. Deputy Minister Local Gov and Housing

Cc:  Dawn Bowden AM.  Mr Gerald Jones MP.

Ref:- Access inland water – “Legislation”

Dear Minister,

To say I am dismayed would be a vast understatement considering the work has been done over the past TEN years, trying to make access agreements.

It should be considered that whilst Jane Davidson was the minister responsible, who brought together organisations at the so called ROUNDTABLE, even at the behest of the minister no head way could be made because the paid canoe Wales official maintained  that canoe Wales could not demand the membership to agree to any terms unless full access was available. Yet prior to the petition there were numerous agreements on a number of rivers, the river Tawe and the Tawe angling club is a case to consider (refer to Life President Raymond Lockyear) and the river Usk (refer to David  Jones Powell). This was prior to the Usk “agreement” by Dr Steven Marsh Smith OBE.

I have not had the pleasure of meeting or speaking with you, I would be pleased to rectify this matter at your convenience, as I have had with previous ministers.

 l endured the full attendance of the Welsh Government public inquiry to the access to inland water 2009/10. In fact the committee dealing with the inquiry supplied me with the Embargoed findings of the sustainability committee, 24 hours before the public announcement was made at the White Water Centre Cardiff.

Incidentally the call for the inquiry was by an electronic petition which included canoeists from many countries apart from the few hundred from Wales. The “WELSH” anglers responded within a couple of weeks with some 10,000 individual WELSH signatures.
The findings were in a nutshell, that Voluntary Access agreements were to be agreed between the fishing clubs and riparian owners with the paddling organisation. I personally gave the assurance to the committee that the angling body would do all in its power to bring about the agreements. Agreements were made but the governing body of the paddlers would only agree if the agreement gave them paddling rights at all times irrespective of the wishes of the angling Associations and fishery owners bodies wishes.


As chairman and founder member of the Merthyr Tydfil Angling Association. A body which formed in 1966/7 we did not own any of our fishing. We changed this by gradually purchasing the rights and access, ie we paid for access. WE have progressed over the years to own various parcels of land adjacent to river banks and to have made some of the holdings into a Nature Reserve and to have progressed from a local association to one that now has an open membership and brings in people from all over Wales but more importantly from all walks of life and all areas of the country. We have made agreement with a Welsh Agricultural college and other owners on the river Usk who have been happy to sign an agreement. Even though we have been rebuffed by paddlers, you and other government/assembly members, are, it would seem prepared to legalise the compulsory purchase of of rights obtained by legal means at the expense of people  (Electorate). Of course I / We realise that you take advice from the people known as civil servants but we do not think that you are finding out the whole truth of the Issue you are looking to legislate for

The following Salient Points are:

          1/ Grants awards to angling and canoeing,

          a/ Angling £396K per 5 yrs (2008 – 2013)   Figures derived from

            b/  Canoeing    £1.8M    “   “         “           “   freedom of Information

            c/ No Anglers 41,913  equates to value of £9.43 / angler per 5 yrs               d/ No canoes     3,800         “       “    “      £473.13/ canoeist  “    

2/  Value of Rod Licence sales (average figure)           £1.31M  per annum

         “      “             permit     “  (club licence)            £2.51M    “      “

              Minimum accrued to Economy of Wales       £3.82M

           Paid by Association/clubs per annum              £2.14M  Rentals

              Total to Economy of Wales                            £5.94M

3/         Value of fishings / property owned          £17.31M

Approximately 26 Association / clubs gave information for ownership & rental values. (No private owners cost/valuation included)

We appreciate that canoes are an Olympic sport therefore the Olympic contenders should have financial backing. But does this include finance to canoe clubs for the purchase of vessels and road vehicles at a cost of thousands of pounds, surely this cannot be in support of the OLYMPIC contenders.

Detail of grants to various canoe activities.

Develop a site for canoe polo     –  £11,170.00

Flatwater participation project    –  £11,625.00

Purchase of trailer etc                 –  £  6,752.00

Canoe Wales school programme – £15,000.00

More members more coaches      – £10,207.00

It is widely known that more voluntary access agreements could be in place. The stumbling block is entirely down to canoe Wales who will only accept access on unfettered terms 24/7.

 In 1979 when as an Association we purchased for our members and the general public a Salmon beat of some 1070 yards as measurements were then we realised that to have open house for the membership to fish this small length would result in conflict ie to many people using it at the same time. We organised a booking system for this fishing and even to today even though we now have three miles of Salmon fishing we still run that system. I mention this just to point out that angling as with most sports and particularly where the protection of the Environment is concerned needs a way to control unrestricted use for the benefit of all.  (Honey pot areas such as Pen y Fan)

Serious questions need to be asked regarding as to why you may seem it necessary to look for legislation.

What must be also taken into consideration that club members/individuals may only use that part of the river (perhaps one mile) owned or rented whereas the canoe fraternity would consider their right to insert the boat at the headwaters (or anywhere between) and exit at the estuary, This means ALL rivers and streams irrespective of spawning periods and other users. This would go against the spirit of the Environment Act promoted by the Welsh Government.

There follows some notes from the 2009 enquiry on evidence given by Sports Council for Wales.

Evidence given by Sports Council Wales

To : Sustainabilitv Committee________________ 3/12/2009

Notes of Part of Evidence ONLY

Q = Question from Sust Comm

A = Answer from Sports council Chief Exec

1/  Q – In your opinion is there need for legislation.

A – An emphatic NO!

21   Q – How many people partake in outdoor ACTIVITIES (Wales)

A – A large percentage of Welsh people 49%. If you take out walkers you are left with a figure of 9%. Of this figure 1.1% are anglers a very small % are canoes 0.02%.

These figures break down to persons affiliated to governing bodies. Angling  40,000. Canoes 5,500. Note: There are 70,000 rod licences sold in Wales.

3/   Q – We are told there is latent demand for access to water related activities.

A –  How do you substantiate latent demand and from what base would you start.

4/    Q – Seeing that flowing water is not owned, would any person be commiting an offence by floating on it.

A – I am not a legal person but I do know that the RIPARIAN owner has the control of what goes on over his land irrespective in air or on water.

5/    Q – How do you see thing happening and should all pay.

A – Through local agreements. The problem with canoes is that they do not wish to pay. Other activities such as golf, gym, football and other have to pay, some such as golf pay a substantial amount £300pa to £1000 pa. A gym would more that likely charge £30 per month, so yes payment must figure for all except walkers.

6Q – Do you give financial support to the canoe governing body and angling

A –   Yes.

Q –  How much.

A –  Chair, I will send you a note (see previous ref Grants) detailing all financial support to all governing bodies. This year we have not funded an Access officer to Canoe Wales, (post occupied by Pam Bell)

My note :   Information indicates £1.8m to canoes and approx £396k to angling.

No mention was made in reference to companies using rivers to hire canoes and rafts at considerable cost to participants and at NIL cost to the organiser and nil to the owners of the property, could this be called squatters rights?

An individual canoe or small party could be acceptable with agreement, but  a flotilla of craft would not be acceptable.

Yours Faithfully

W G Davies   (Gary)

Chairman MTAA

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