Sustainable Access Campaign Cymru

The following press release speaks for itself, however anglers are asked to support this campaign in every way. A grateful thanks from us to Rachel and the team!

Thursday 20 March 2014

Sent by the Sustainable Access Campaign Cymru, established by Angling Cymru, Angling Trust, Countryside Alliance, Country Land and Business Association, Fish Legal and the Welsh Salmon and Trout Angling Association

 

Angling & Countryside Groups Highlight Risk to Angling Businesses from Open Access to Water

The Angling Trust and the Countryside Alliance met with officials from the Welsh Government to highlight the risk to angling businesses from proposals which have been mooted by Welsh Ministers for open access to rivers in Wales.  They took them to the Gliffaes Hotel near Crickhowell where co-owner James Suter explained to them that angling on the River Usk is absolutely vital to the profitability of the hotel, which is a major employer in the area.  He noted that he had never had any revenue from canoeists using the river under the Voluntary Access Agreement that is in place on the upper Usk.

The Angling Trust and Countryside Alliance are members of the Sustainable Access Campaign Cymru (SACC), which represents hundreds of thousands of anglers and land owners in Wales and was co-founded with Angling  Cymru, The Country, Land and Business Association and the Welsh Salmon and Trout Angling Association back in September 2013.

They stressed at the meeting that they were supportive of Voluntary Access Agreements (VAAs) to increase the number of rivers where canoeing is allowed, but stressed that these must include restrictions to avoid damage to sensitive ecosystems from boats and slashing the capital value of fishing rights, which may be worth as much as £1billion in Wales.  They also pressed the officials to introduce the registration and licensing of all vessels on rivers so that such agreements can be enforced.

A green paper on access to the countryside, due to be published in the autumn of 2013, has been further delayed following a huge volume of correspondence from SACC supporters highlighting the risks of access without locally-agreed restrictions.

Formation of more VAAs throughout Wales and England has been frustrated by the refusal of the canoeing representative organisations to agree to anything other than access to all areas at all times.  Furthermore, Canoe Wales has recently issued a statement on navigation policy which claimed a “right to use the inland waters of Wales” and stated that “Canoe Wales supports the rights of its members and the general public to use all the inland waters of Wales with responsibility and pride”.

All the legal textbooks concur that no such right exists, except on navigable rivers.  This has been confirmed by independent lawyers and QCs, and no legal professional has ever suggested otherwise.  The continued suggestion from the British Canoe Union and Canoe Wales that such a right might exist is causing widespread unlawful canoeing which is the subject of a complaint by the Angling Trust to UK and Welsh Government.

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal said: “angling is worth approximately £150 million to the Welsh economy, and supports thousands of jobs.  We urge Ministers to ensure that this business, and the wild fish on which it depends, are strongly protected in any proposals for increased access.  We support increasing access to rivers for paddle boats, but is seems utterly reasonable that this access should be restricted to protect legitimate existing users and to protect the fragile environment of rivers.”

Rachel Evans Director for Wales for the Countryside Alliance said: “any increase in access to land and water must take in to consideration people’s property rights, and must be managed to complement and protect the environment and habitats.  With regard to access to rivers, the continued stand-off by Canoe Wales and their membership is once again forming barriers for negotiation. For access agreements to work on our rivers, I think it is vital that vessels be licensed and have some form of identification.”

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