It’s great to see British Canoeing’s new commitment to championing the case for fair, shared, sustainable open access to inland waters to be confirmed in law.
Of course, we’ve been here before with recent consultations on countryside access in both England and Wales failing to result in clarification of the legal position as far as rivers are concerned. But the argument has been won in Scotland and, with access being the norm across much of Europe and elsewhere, it seems only a matter of time before our politicians accept that our inland waterways are too important a resource not to be shared more widely. And that is all we are asking for.
Linking improved access to future public funding for the countryside makes perfect sense. I was recently impressed by the work that’s been done below Exeter to create and sign official portages around the weirs on the Exe and between the river and the Exeter Canal. We’re still dreaming of a similar approach on the Jubilee River and the Thames – despite lobbying of the local authorities and the Environment Agency in my area.
I hope members of the paddling community will get behind British Canoeing and take every opportunity to approach their MPs and councillors to make the case for shared and improved access. If you not already, see https://www.britishcanoeing.org.uk/go-canoeing/access-and-environment/access-charter-campaign for details of how you can get involved. British Canoeing has a clear plan, it’s clearly down to us to make it happen.
Fair, shared, sustainable open access, it’s not too much to ask for is it?