20 January 2013 ·
A quick update on the access situation on the Welsh Dee
The Welsh Dee
Time to break my silence here I think.
I do sit on the steering group that Welsh Dee Fishing Ltd have organised for discussions on the permissions they have published.
I have made it very clear from the start that I do not represent paddlers in this process and as far as I am aware no agreements have been made, there have been discussions over the terms of the permissions but only the angling clubs can vary their permissions.
I arranged a meeting of all the commercial users of the river that I could get together, and the clear and unanimous outcome of that meeting was that the only person that could represent them in negotiations is Ashley Charlwood of Canoe Wales.
I couldn't honestly sit on the Steering panel with my paddler hat on as my feelings are much the same as anyone else.
The role I take on the panel, which fits in with my post of Vice Chair of the Llangollen Chamber of Trade and Tourism is do my best to help create and preserve local jobs involving the river without threat of injunction.
I do not advocate that you follow the permissions or that you don't follow them but I want as much hassle free paddling on the river as possible, I want more local jobs and I want the river cared for and maintained.
I have commercial interests on the river through two companies that I have set up and am a director of, one ProAdventure Activities Ltd a not for profit company providing high quality coaching, coach education and adventure experiences, the other is White Water Tubing UK Ltd, a provider of White Water Tubing on the river and hopefully soon rafting. Last year we had over 2000 people on the river, many new to paddlesport. It may sound like a gold mine, but one company is a not for profit and the other a start up in a difficult market, but job wise we create a lot of work locally, that is why I sit on the steering group.
The steering group makes no decisions on the permissions, any possible changes are made by the angling clubs.
Other people on the steering group include representatives from the CCW, Council, AONB, Angling Clubs, land owners, Canal and Rivers Trust, Mike Dalton (owner of Mile End Mill) Chris Charters and others. Not all the land owners are represented, nor are all the owners of fishing rights.
I have received various letters from the anglers over the years with threats of potential legal action, the most recent accompanying the publication of the anglers permissions last year, and the most recent of these last Thursday, which was recanted after the anglers read their permissions. But they are planning to restrict the permissions come April fitting in with their three month term.
I for one would like to get on with the anglers, they have worked hard on this process (yes it is in their own interests, as is my considerable work on this in my own interests and those I employ both directly and indirectly).
I am also leading a group of companies who wish to raft the river from the Horseshoe Falls to the Ponsonby Car Park. We wish to raft commercially, put some cash in to a not for profit company to look after fences, car parks, access, egress etc, potentially employ a liaison officer to make things work smoothly, and do some paddler education on the environment etc. This would be a contracted agreement, without payment for canoeing and kayaking, and from the advice we have taken would not affect anyone elses rights. The potential for a lot of extra local jobs is obvious.
So in conclusion,
I don't represent or claim to represent any paddlers, either recreational or non recreational. Anything I have put to the anglers that could form an agreement for rafting and tubing is agreed by the bodies that would be party to a contract, and no payments would go to the anglers or anything for crossing on water over anyone's land.
We do pay for parking, access across the land etc when we coach at Mile End Mill, we occupy the site all day and work there (much more could be done if the lease issues are resolved). A lot has been done there to make things better for paddling and coaching there .