Monday, 3 August 2009

rivers are for everyone

well, everyone except canoeists, according to Mr Salter.

Canoeists want a statutory right of access to the rivers they and others enjoy. They are not seeking to trespass, nor to break the law, although Mr Salter has this to say about them:

Martin Salter said:-
“It is clear that although there is plenty of room on our larger rivers for everyone, canoeists and anglers alike, the militant tendency within the British Canoe Union is absolutely determined to continue to trespass and disrupt the effective voluntary agreements that are in place that allow both sports to exist side by side. I will be emphasising to Huw Irranca-Davies the need for him to stand firm against the BCU demands for a statutory right of access irrespective of the damage and disturbance they cause to other water users.”

Mr Salter is so concerned about this he has, er, written a letter about it. No-one, so far as I know, not even anglers, wants access to rivers "irrespective of damage and disturbance" - although water birds are often subjected to slow and agonising deaths by the activities of spliffed-up anglers, who leave lines on the bank for birds and other animals to get tangled up in, and angling of course by definition mutilates sentient river dwellers.

Here is what one of the canoeing organisations had to say on the matter:

CANOE ENGLAND STATEMENT Response to Griff Rhys-Jones’ debate on access to inland waters
Canoe England is extremely disappointed with the distorted debate about access to water on the BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine show Thursday 23rd July 2009.
The feature was unbalanced, misrepresentative and did not allow Canoe England’s position to be heard. As a result the arguments sought to inflame the myth that access to the rivers is a canoeing versus angling debate which is untrue. Canoe England is not “demanding” unregulated and unfettered access to rivers like the speakers stated.Lack of access to inland waters is not a canoeing versus angling issue it is in fact a concern for all members of the public. With over 41,000 miles of rivers in England and Wales, there is plenty of room for everyone. Martin Salter Labour MP for Reading West and Mark Lloyd Chief Executive of the Angling Trust made the following points on the Radio 2 feature:
• “The British Canoe Union has a militant view.”This is untrue. For years, canoeists have been respectful of voluntary access agreements. The current interpretation of the law presumes that rights of navigation do not exist. Canoe England does not agree with this position and will do all that it can to challenge the current interpretation and encourage the introduction of fresh legislation to place the matter beyond doubt. • “Canoeing disturbs fish and spawning beds.”The canoe is a traditional craft used throughout the world for exploring wilderness areas and quietly observing wildlife and flora. It causes no erosion, noise or pollution and leaves no trace of its passing. It has been proven that canoeing at appropriate water levels is an environmentally benign activity and causes no damage to fish stocks. *
• “Canoeists want unfettered access”Canoe England wants to see the introduction of an Access Code detailing how and under what circumstances access to waters should be permitted for all. It would set out water user’s responsibilities and emphasise measures to protect the environment. The introduction of new legislation in the form of a bill similar to the successful Scottish Land Reform Act, which includes such an access code, would benefit all water users and the environment.This is not a canoeing versus fishing debate or even about money, as canoeists buy licences and take nothing from the rivers only rubbish to dispose of appropriately, it is about access for all and in this small crowded island swimmers, walkers, canoeists, anglers and people who want to enjoy the inland waters should be able to do so.
Canoe England fully endorses Griff Rhys-Jones’ sentiments.

Hope that's cleared up any misunderstanding. Perhaps when Parliament resumes in the autumn there can be a sensible debate about this - ideal for a Westminster Hall debate I should have thought - some MPs do this, understanding that their role is more than that of a letter-writer to ministers. Nasty Naz, let's hear from you - what do you reckon on the rivers?


Nowtas said...

Whatever Naz thinks about the subject, it will still feel like squits being shot in my ears if he talks about it.

Word verification this time was kaidan. That's cheered me up, at least.

Anonymous said...

May I be the first to point out that Reading Canoe Club is in Caversham, i.e Reading East.

Anonymous said...

Canoeists are much the same as hikers - charging along with a fixed grim expession - oblivious to everything around them, even their companions.

jane said...

kaidan is Japanese for "staircase". Just thought you'd like to know.

Anonymous said...

Fishermen pay loads of money to riparian owners. Canoeists do not.

Grouse shooters pay loads of money to estate owners. Walkers do not.

One group is denied access. One group has the right to roam.


Odd that Martin "Power to the people" Salter should be supporting a well funded lobby of (basically) hunting enthusiasts rather than the small man out for quiet enjoyment of the countryside, or maybe not.

Soon. Soon he will be gone.

Reading Boater

Jonny said...

I shall have visions all day of "militant canoeists" - To the kayaks, Comrades! There are rapids ahead! Death to all who slightly knock the little red poles hanging over the water!

Bloater said...

Why has Martin Salter not paid homage to Benson the Carp, sadly deceased ?

He seems incapable of observing the requisite niceties - as usual.

Anonymous said...

As a canoeist - are we to expect Martin Salter to pen £million memoirs, courtesy of HMP - like another canoeist in the news?