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Thread: Sussex Ouse

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    Default Sussex Ouse Whilst this is an old thread there are a number of incorrect statements being made regarding the rights of navigation on the Sussex Ouse.

    A navigation act was passed in 1790 and is still on statue. The Environment Agency in their LEAP for the catchment acknowledged this. In a meeting organised by the EA in 1998 I met with the secretary of OAPS regarding Barcombe Mills. I made it clear that there was a right of navigation on the non-tidal section and this was not up for discussion but was happy to talk about other issues. Following that meeting the LRA met with the secretary of OAPS to agree a suitable portage point on the non tidal section on EA owned land. This was done and a map produced which was published on the BC website. We agreed to thefollowing
    1. Put on or off the water only at the portage points agreed
    2. Use only that part of the river necessary to gain access to the portage points, and not the pool and surrounding streams, and not play in or monopolise any areas, making fishing difficult.
    3. Not to use the River above Hamsey during the first weekend following June 16th of any year.

    For the benefit of paddlers the pool is a popular area at the bottom of the weir for fish to congregate. Angling club members pay more to fish in this area and it is only fair to allow all users to enjoy their sport. As the pool is above the portage point on the tidal section this should not be an issue.

    In Jan 2000 the EA confirmed in writing the following "I write to confirm that the Environment Agency believes that the right of navigation on the Ouse still exists between Newhaven and the Balcobme viaduct. The Environment Agency understands this to mean that the public has a legal right to canoe the River Ouse between these two locations". The c.c's on the bottom of the letter include the EA legal department who provided this statement.

    Over the last few years paddlers have reported to BC that anglers have stated that canoeing has been banned by the EA. OAPS were contacted in 2016 but failed to respond. In May 2017 BC were contacted by the EA as OAPS had issued a legal challenge to EA regarding the launching of canoes on the EA owned land at Barcombe Mills and the fact that the river was non navigable (Non navigable is the words of OAPS)

    The EA legal department have rejected the challenge from OAPS on a number of points.

    1. The land around Barcombe Mills is owned by the EA. Some parts of the land are subject to conveyance but the piece of land where paddlers launch from and where the EA proposed to build a launch/landing point is not subject to any conveyance. (The conveyance is around exclusive fishing rights). In addition the EA rejected the challenge as "under section 37 of the Environment Act1995 to ... do anything which in its opinion, is calculated to facilitate, or is conducive or incidental to, the carrying out of its functions... The word"functions" is defined in section 124 of the Environment Act to included the powers and duties of the Agency "

    2. Although the current tidal limit is at Barcombe Mills, EA measuring equipment at Barcombe Mills and midway between Barcombe Mills and the Anchor Pub measuring typical tidal heights indicates that historically the natural tidal limit is several miles upstream of Barcombe Mills.

    3. The 1790 act "This has not been repealed and therefore, although the canal is actually moribund the law remains in force"

    4. "Section 48 of the 1790 Act provided that no vessel under ten tons should pass through the locks. Obviously this was inserted because there were these very large structures designed to take vessels up to the size mentioned in paragraph 13. Clearly, the proprietors of the navigation did not want to open these substantial lock gates with the consequent loss of water levels without there being an equally substantial vessel deserving of that treatment carrying sufficient goods to be charged a realistic toll. However,this does not mean that small vessels like canoes or rowing boats could not have been sailed up the river and carried overland around each of the locks."

    5 "The Anchor public house was also constructed in 1790 just as the canalisation was being worked on and it is not impossible to imagine some people sailing up to the public house in this way.

    6. A further Act of parliament was passed in 1814. Section 1 of the act repealed the old tolls etc and section 5 laid down completely new amounts."For every Boat, Barge or other Vessel of less Burthen than Ten tons passing through any lock, the sum of sixpence for every lock such Boat, Barge,or other Vessel shall pass through; but if the same shall be laden with any of the Articles before enumerated, then the Toll on such articles shall be paid instead of the said Toll of Sixpence on passing each Lock.

    There is a notice in the public notice board at Barcombe Mills from the EA confirming a right to launch from its land. BC has always believed that there is a public right of navigation on the Sussex Ouse. The recent correspondencefrom the EA legal department supports this belief. Please enjoy this delightful river, use the designated launch and landing points, stay away from the weir pool and adjoining streams and respect other water users.

    If any paddler is challenged whilst paddling on the Ouse please let either me, the LRA Clive Edwards or the BC office know

    Noel Humphrey
    RWA South East Region
    Last edited by Noel Humphrey; 5th-September-2017 at 11:36 AM.

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