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Thread: Access to rivers from bridges ?

  1. #1
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    Default Access to rivers from bridges ?

    Here's a question for the guys with either civil engineering or highways Knowledge.

    The authorities own our highways including the verges normally up to the center of the hedge or fence, this is to allow services to be installed and maintenance. So my question is when a bridge is built do they also acquire a strip of land either side to allow for maintenance, It seems unlikely that they would have to ask the landowner for permission to carry out repairs as this would put them in a vulnerable position (pay me loads of money or you can't come on my land) I know that they do not fence a section off but, that does not mean they don't own it.

    The reason I ask the question is that the access to the rivers is likely to be a bigger problem in the future than the access on the river. If the public authorities do own this strip of land it potentially gives us a means off access to the river without crossing the farmers land.
    I accept that it would not be straight forward but it would give us something to work on.

    Does anyone know the answer?
    "Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men"
    Grp Cpt Sir Douglas Bader CBE,DSO,DFC,FRAeS.

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    Nice one Mr Cloudman. I've always been concerned regarding how easy it would be to stop access to the rivers I paddle if the landowners simply fenced off the places where we put in. I hope your thinking/logic is correct. Someone who knows what they're talking about will be along soon hopefully.
    Cheers,
    Paul.
    Just goin with the flow

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    I thought this thread was going to involve cranes!

  4. #4

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    Have you seen those pulley and cradle rigs that the skyscraper window cleaners use??? Well you can get similar but much much lighter weight ones for hanging your cycle from the ceiling.

    Anyone up for a crazy challenge? ;-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Izzetafox View Post
    Have you seen those pulley and cradle rigs that the skyscraper window cleaners use??? Well you can get similar but much much lighter weight ones for hanging your cycle from the ceiling.

    Anyone up for a crazy challenge? ;-)
    What's wrong with using a bit of rope and your buoyancy aid to stop it chaffing on the bridge: http://www.simondawson.com/phseiont.htm#a ;-)

    If you insist on using modern harnesses should it be compulsory to paddle dressed as a superhero? (Nice feel good story).

    More seriously, whilst bridges are occasionally barred, has anyone got any ideas on getting over relatively low level bridges that make weirs unrunnable where portaging around to the sides isn't an option due to private access restrictions at the sides of the weir?

    Important question in the OP.
    Last edited by John Saunders; 3rd-August-2012 at 08:52 PM.

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    I don't know if, or how helpful this will be , but a couple of us bought a grappling hook with a view to help getting out at tricky places. Obviously, to pull yourself up onto a bridge wouldn't be too bad, but you'd need to have all your kit pretty well tied in, or be able to throw it up onto said bridge before getting up yourself.

    I have a feeling a few people may be rolling their eyes when they see this , or maybe even more concerned ( ). It's just an idea..
    Cheers, Chris.

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    I think the question of ownership of highways is an irrelevance as this site indicates. The issue is all about rights of access as it is with us on rivers. If you (and/or others) have been accessing a river by a particular route for more than 20 years without specific permission from the landowner then you have acquired a right of access by prescription. The Daily Telegraph explains it all here. If you own adjacent land this can be recorded by registering an easement against the property over which the right of way passes but in most cases you will need to register the right of way with the local Higways Authority.

    Don't allow landowners to fence off rights of way like this without appealing to the Highways Authority - its best to register the right of way before any attempt to obstruct it.
    Keith

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    Keith

    I totally agree with the need to claim existing access points where they have been used for more than 20 years, the Rambles do this all the time. I have been involved with such a claim for a footpath in our village, the Ramblers footpath officer has a file on this 3" thick and after 3 years tenacious work and a public hearing it was finally granted. The point I am making is that to make such a claim needs a very determined effort from initially one person or persons with preferably the back up of an organisation behind them, the land owner will almost certainly have legal help on his side. The Ramblers have this structure to back them up, if a canoeist starts a claim who can he or she go to for backup? The problem is in providing evidence to back up your claim, just saying you have used a path for 20 years is not enough you have to prove it, either with multiple statements or documentary proof. This takes time and effort, so without an organisation to back it up the success will be patchy depending on a few dedicated individuals.

    The land owners have clearly decided to concentrate their efforts on this battle ground, they are using signs. fences and gates as their weapons to restrict our access to the rivers. They are doing what land owners do best, own the land and deny access, this will continue for the next few years until they have closed as many access points as they can. The "Access Campaign" would be advised to direct itís resources towards this problem for the next couple of years as once these access point are lost then they are gone for good. We need a central point for people to report any blocked access, that way even if the person reporting the blockage is unable to deal with it another person or Canoe Club could try to save it. The obvious place is on the Access Campaign web site so that everyone can consult it, I also think the Canoe Clubs should take the responsibility of monitoring their area as the local Rambling Groups do. CE and CW should provide advice backup on how to deal with a claim, but failing that we should at least talk to our local Rambler Group, they may also be interested in any closure and will be a valuable source of advice.


    We should not underestimate how the loss of these access points will affect paddlers in the future. We should also not underestimate the land owners resolve in blocking them off, they have large resources available, if necessary they will buy up land just to block access.
    "Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men"
    Grp Cpt Sir Douglas Bader CBE,DSO,DFC,FRAeS.

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    Hi, Just stumbled on this thread while looking for something else, not sure how I missed it first time round. To answer the original question, it will depend on the bridge in question, there is not a standard answer.
    However in the majority of cases (especially older bridges), the answer is no, the authority owning the bridge are unlikely to own a strip of land either side of it. The law will allow the relevant people the right to access the land either side of the bridge for maintenance and repair work, but it will still belong to who ever owns the rest of the land surrounding the bridge.
    Obviously the right of access may have been established by 20 years of use as Keith says, or there may be a footpath or similar, but if this isn't the case then, unfortunately, the owner of the land has the same rights to restrict access as any other landowner.

    To answer John Saunders question on how to get round weirs that are not runnable due to low bridges, I am sure this has been discussed previously. The conclusion was that if a river was made unnavigable by a weir or other structure, or even a fallen tree, then anyone trying to navigate the river had the right to portage round it, and the riparian owners are not allowed to restrict people from using there land for this purpose.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barney View Post
    The conclusion was that if a river was made unnavigable by a weir or other structure, or even a fallen tree, then anyone trying to navigate the river had the right to portage round it, and the riparian owners are not allowed to restrict people from using there land for this purpose.
    I think that was a proposition I postulated. I'm not sure it was ever a 'conclusion'. It seemed to me to be a logical outcome.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cloudman View Post
    Keith

    I totally agree with the need to claim existing access points where they have been used for more than 20 years, the Rambles do this all the time. I have been involved with such a claim for a footpath in our village, the Ramblers footpath officer has a file on this 3" thick and after 3 years tenacious work and a public hearing it was finally granted. The point I am making is that to make such a claim needs a very determined effort from initially one person or persons with preferably the back up of an organisation behind them, the land owner will almost certainly have legal help on his side. The Ramblers have this structure to back them up, if a canoeist starts a claim who can he or she go to for backup? The problem is in providing evidence to back up your claim, just saying you have used a path for 20 years is not enough you have to prove it, either with multiple statements or documentary proof. This takes time and effort, so without an organisation to back it up the success will be patchy depending on a few dedicated individuals. .
    This is very interesting.. anyone know anything about The Ramblers back up structure?
    Doug Dew
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    Quote Originally Posted by dougdew99 View Post
    This is very interesting.. anyone know anything about The Ramblers back up structure?
    I will try and speak to the Ramblers Rep I mentioned above and pick his brains, but there is a massive amount of information on there website. They are a very democratic organisation so publish loads of information including there structure. Basically the system works by pooling information from other members, they have a very varied membership so I presume they have experts from most fields.
    "Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men"
    Grp Cpt Sir Douglas Bader CBE,DSO,DFC,FRAeS.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barney View Post
    However in the majority of cases (especially older bridges), the answer is no, the authority owning the bridge are unlikely to own a strip of land either side of it. The law will allow the relevant people the right to access the land either side of the bridge for maintenance and repair work, but it will still belong to who ever owns the rest of the land surrounding the bridge.
    Thanks for the info, I have come to the conclusion that it was a non starter but was worth looking at. What I did find out during my search for info was that lots of old country roads still belong to the adjoining landowners, when the councils adopted them they took on the responsibility for maintenance but did not take ownership so the landowner owns the road up to the middle. If there is a running ditch they have Riparian rights and responsibilities also. There is nothing that they can do with it as once it is a highway they can not restrict its use in anyway. This all has a familiar pattern doesn't it.
    "Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men"
    Grp Cpt Sir Douglas Bader CBE,DSO,DFC,FRAeS.

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    Here's a link to an American Whitewater Affiliation article on the same issue.

    http://www.americanwhitewater.org/co...ticleid/31321/

    Bridge access to rivers comes up in every state in the States. Sometimes it's landowners, sometimes it's the state police worried about traffic safety when a bunch of boaters are putting in or taking out. Usually there is a verge to a state road that is public, but it can be narrow and hard to use.

    In Georgia, most county sheriffs are personally favorable to river paddling, which they did in their youth. And they hate getting calls from landowners to come and arrest "trespassers" which the sheriffs see as low priority compared to meth labs, home burglary, policing local festivals, and almost anything else.

    We had a Georgia State Supreme Court decision go against us, so unless a river is navigable by the equivalent of river steamboats, landowners can potentially close it to paddling. We just mind our P's and Q's and hope landowners have better things to do with their time.

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    Barney is correct that highway authorities rarely own a strip of land adjacent to bridges, usually the bridge wall will be the limit of the highway indeed the Highways Act 1980 has specific powers allowing highway authorities to access private land in order to maintain their structures. Regarding Cloudman's comment re the ownership of country roads. The principle is that the surface of all highways, including footpaths and bridleways are "vested" in the authority to allow them to perform their functions, the frontagers continue to own the subsoil up to the centre line, just like riparian ownership. If the highway is ever stopped up then it reverts to the owners of the subsoil. Of course for new roads such as motorways the authority purchases the land and owns it sub soil and all.

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    A further thought on KeithD's comment concerning claiming footpaths to access points. This is unlikely to work for a number of reasons. Firstly most paths connect to other paths, it is very rare to find a path that is a cul de sac, which it would be if you were just getting in the water! Some cul de sacs do exist usually as, what the law calls paths to "places of resort", viewpoints etc but they are few and far between. Secondly you need to demonstrate that the path has been used by "the public at large", not just a small class of the public such as the inhabitants of a certain village, employees of a certain person or in this case canoeists! Other than that you would need to demonstrate 20 years use, at least 6 witnesses at the very minimum, no evidence of forced entry, nor use with permission of the landowner and use has to be open and without secrecy. If you can do all that you register your claim with the highway authority then wait for them to investigate the case which can be many years depending on the area due to often large backlogs and poor staff resources.

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    Thanks for the feedback guys, It's interesting to see that in the USA it is an option that is already being used when new bridges are being built. Maybe there will be an odd occasion when we could ask the authorities to consider this option if a bridge is being built or renewed in the UK.

    I am pleased that the idea appears not to be a stupid idea after all.

    In a way the system is in place now, in that a lot of the current access points are next to bridges, usually in small towns where there is public land adjacent to the bridge. We used the excellent facilities at Farndon (Dee) on Sunday next to the old town bridge, Parking, Toilets, and plenty of steps to the river, they even have a couple of good pubs close by, what more could we ask for.
    "Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men"
    Grp Cpt Sir Douglas Bader CBE,DSO,DFC,FRAeS.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 25272527 View Post
    Secondly you need to demonstrate that the path has been used by "the public at large", not just a small class of the public such as the inhabitants of a certain village, employees of a certain person or in this case canoeists!
    Seems a strange idea. Most public footpaths were established when most people were agricultural labourers who rarely if ever travelled beyond their own village. Where does the idea come from that such people were unable to establish any rights of way?
    Quote Originally Posted by 25272527 View Post
    Other than that you would need to demonstrate 20 years use, at least 6 witnesses at the very minimum, no evidence of forced entry, nor use with permission of the landowner and use has to be open and without secrecy. If you can do all that you register your claim with the highway authority then wait for them to investigate the case which can be many years depending on the area due to often large backlogs and poor staff resources.
    Doesn't seem to be impossibly difficult. If it's still waiting to be investigated when the deadline for registering new rights of way arrives in 2026 then the deadline criteria will be met. Do nothing and all too soon the opportunity will be lost forever.
    Keith

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    The backlogs and the deadlines are not the major problem. The restrictive class of user constituting the application if it is restricted to canoeists is the problem as they would not be eligible and unfortunately the application would not be accepted by the highway authority.

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    So how do we develop these 'classes of user'? Indeed, people hate to be pidgeon-holed and people love to pidgeon-hole.

    I'm suggesting anyone who accesses a river must fall into a restrictive class, they will be either a wader, a swimmer, or a navigator (I am assuming an angler will stand on the bank).

    But once we have all of their details, maybe we can 'classify' them in other ways; in Scotland, maybe they are all Scottish; maybe they are all able bodied; maybe they are all middle class since they can afford all the shiney new equipment for canoeing. If the right of way goes to a church, I'd be surprised if all of the users weren't christians or at least religious; if it is a bridleway, I'm guessing they will all be riders.

    On encouraging point from the relevant legislation is ''For the purposes of this section “land” includes land covered with water.'' But, whilst searching, I could fine no reference to the use of 'classes' of the public.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Cooper View Post
    ........................
    I'm suggesting anyone who accesses a river must fall into a restrictive class, they will be either a wader, a swimmer, or a navigator (I am assuming an angler will stand on the bank).
    .......................
    Even if the angler does stand on the bank, they may still use the same route to gain access to the bank. Also other people may use the same route to get to the bank eg dog walkers, local kids going to play in/by the river.
    Obviously each individual case will be different, but in at least some cases it should be possible to prove that several "classes of user" use a particular route to get to the bank. The fact that some then get into the river, some get on to it, and some stand or sit next to it, proves they are different "classes of user".

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    Default Ramblers Advice on PROW

    This advice is taken from the Ramblers Web site.
    http://www.ramblers.org.uk/rights_of...of_way#Grounds

    The grounds on which a right of way claim may be made

    A right of way may be claimed on the basis of user evidence (i.e. evidence that the public has established a right of way by using a defined route over a period of time), or documentary evidence (i.e. evidence based on historical documents such as tithe maps), or both.
    Claiming a right of way using evidence of public use

    In order to make a claim for a right of way based on public use you’ll need to be able to demonstrate all of the following:

    • A period of at least 20 years uninterrupted use by the public, counted backwards from the date when the public’s right to use the way was called into question. If the public's right to use the path has not been called into question the 20-year period should be calculated backwards from the date of your DMMO application.
    • Use should be 'as of right', which means without secrecy, force or the express permission of the landowner. But there's no need for the public to have believed it was a right of way they were using.
    • Use must be by the public at large, not just certain tenants or employees of an estate.
    • Use must follow a linear route.

    Please note:
    It may be possible to establish a right of way on the basis of public use over a period less than 20 years: read more about this).
    Claims cannot be made for ways over land where access is already prohibited: such as motorways and railway lines. Nor can a right of way be acquired over Access Land.
    Claiming a right of way using documentary evidence

    The law says a right of way can only be extinguished through a legal process. This means a right of way which came into existence a long time ago and has become invisible on the ground still legally exists - and may be claimed - if it's never been formally extinguished.
    To prove that a right of way came into existence at some time in the past you'll need to rely on documentary evidence like old maps and tithe awards. The Rights of Way Review Committee (of which the Ramblers' is a member) has produced a guidance note which explains about the different types of documentary evidence, the weight such evidence carries, and explains how to go about finding it.
    Sometimes documentary evidence will be sufficient in its own right to prove that a right of way exists, but it is worth bearing in mind that documents may be open to more than one interpretation. If there has been recent public use of the right of way you're claiming, it's worth submitting user evidence as well.
    Before you start doing lots of research and hard work it's worth checking with the surveying authority whether the right of way you're claiming has been extinguished by a legal order. Any evidence of right of way status before an extinguishment order will have been invalidated if the order was confirmed.

    The "Guidance notes" are very helpfull,
    http://www.ramblers.org.uk/Resources...nce-status.pdf
    "Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men"
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    This map illustrates what the Ramblers are able to achieve and how they go about it. It starts by believing you have the power to change things for the better.
    Keith

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    Quote Originally Posted by KeithD View Post
    This map illustrates what the Ramblers are able to achieve and how they go about it. It starts by believing you have the power to change things for the better.
    What is needed is to first identify access points that may be suitable to claim a PROW on, then a detailed assessment can be made as to whether they will be eligible or not. Maybe a register could be incorporated into the River access for all site.
    "Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men"
    Grp Cpt Sir Douglas Bader CBE,DSO,DFC,FRAeS.

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