The issue of being an SSSI is entirely irrelevant. Substantial portions of many statutory navigations (like my local Basingstoke Canal
) are SSSIs and the flora/ fauna coexists perfectly happily with powered and un-powered craft.
The question of navigation rights is, of course a big one without universal consensus but the evidence is clear enough, A summary of specific evidence for the Teme is here
and wider evidence for all rivers is here
There is no such thing as a fishery agency. The Environment Agency regulate fishing but have no position on navigation on unregulated rivers. The guidance they have issued to their staff is here
. Of particular note is section 4 In order to avoid confusion for canoeists on the difference between Agency Fisheries bailiffs and gillies or club bailiffs, Agency staff should always show their warrants or identity cards.
and 4.3 Agency Fisheries bailiffs should avoid becoming involved in landowner/canoeist disputes over access to rivers.
Lord Smith, Chairman of the Environment Agency, made the position very clear in this letter
Defra have said (to me in writing) There is no clear case law on whether a common law right of navigation exists on unregulated rivers. This is widely accepted to be an unclear and unresolved issue.
(that means that it has to be resolved on the basis of the evidence).
The person who spoke to you was not a public official and was expressing no more than a poorly informed personal opinion.
Last edited by KeithD; Today at 12:46 PM.