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Thread: A bit of realism...

  1. #1

    Default A bit of realism...

    What follows strikes me as the most realistic appraisal I've yet read of where we might currently stand in terms of increased access to rivers: posted on UKRGB on 3rd March.

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Henry
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim_MWX
    I don't get it.

    Why can CE Not make their minds up.

    The discussion I had with the Rivers Access Campaign, funded by CE, seemed to suggest they were against the idea of access agreements.
    My best guess (and that's all it is) is this:


    I think CE agree (legally or morally) with the work produced by Caffyn, which says there is a public right of access for non-powered craft along all navigable natural watercourses. But this has not been tested in law. So if they officially back this stance and one of their members is taken to court, then CE could be construed as being liable ("my governing body said I could") and either have to actively back the paddler, with all the legal costs involved (at least hundreds of thousands, more probably millions since it would need to go to the court of appeal and probably higher) or could be sued by said member if they didn't back him/her up. If they chose not to back the paddler, financial issues would most certainly stop it going high enough in the courts system to test the law properly and paddlers would be seen to have lost (assuming the case is lost, which is probably likely if it doesn't go high enough), creating belief that paddlers do not have legitimate access to moving water.

    [Then a dubious assertion: see below for Adam Box's clarification]

    If CE accept access agreements, they are accepting/agreeing that we don't have the right to access along all navigable natural watercourses, the amount of access that we have at present will be seriously reduced, and they will be lambasted by all their members as well as the paddling community as a whole.


    The result of the first will be £millions at risk, and either £millions lost or full access finally legally accepted. The result of the second would be the definite removal of what has become accepted access to much of England and Wales' waterways, and probably severe restrictions on the rest. With these probable results at stake, is it surprising that they are just trying to avoid the issue by sitting on their own fence?


    Another way forward many are suggesting is the push for new legislation similar to that in Scotland, basically allowing access to all rivers. But I see this as slowly being changed, starting with the rafting ban on the Tay, next will surely be a kayaking ban, at least on certain days. The question now is can the Scottish model work in England and Wales? Since Scotland already had an effective right to roam on so much of the countryside, whereas south of the border we don't, I don't think it will happen. What I and quite a few others believe will happen is that the attempts at access agreements that are presently being recommended by the government will become law, especially since the hunting and fishing contingency want this and have such political clout, and the rights we have as described by Caffyn will be legally and forever removed, and ultimately meaning we will be breaking criminal law by paddling. So I see this approach as creating a big losing position for paddlers.


    Hope I haven't gone on too much, and haven't confused the issue for you.
    Mark R challenged the phrase "what has become accepted access to much of England and Wales' waterways".. leading to a clarification with which I'd wholeheartedly agree:

    I'm using the term 'accepted' to mean unchallenged, and I say 'much' because the (admittedly limited) number of sections of rivers I now paddle on completely unchallenged throughout the year, as opposed to having to stick to rigid access times, must have increased fifteen- or twenty-fold at least. But as I mentioned, it is limited (to the North East) and other areas are not so lucky.
    This chimes with my own experience: my recollection of the 1980s was of a FAR worse access situation... at least as far as WW rivers were concerned. Back then, the key folk in my paddling circles found the whole situation so intimidating that we didn't do ANYTHING that didn't have the go-ahead from a river adviser - and we still had access to more than most people would ever get around to paddling - and whilst I'd like an improved access situation... I'd rather settle for the workable status quo than take significant risk on us ending up in a LESS favourable position!

    Getting back to the UKRGB thread, we find Adam Box announcing his resignation as Devon and Cornwall Regional Access Adviser and commenting on the basis of immense familiarity with Access matters:

    Whilst negotiating new CE agreements on SW rivers I have insisted that the pre-amble to the arrangement includes a paragraph which makes it clear that the different parties have different views on the legal situation with regard to access, and that we (CE & canoeists generally) do not accept the traditional views of the riparian owners. It concludes with a sentence along the lines of 'The aim of this arrangement is to allow canoeing to take place without confrontation or challenge, and without prejudice to the views of either Canoe England or riparian owners'. I have refused to sign and ratify any agreements without this statement. The purpose of any such arrangement is therefore to allow unchallenged access on rivers during the fishing close season while still giving paddlers the opportunity to paddle at other times if they so wish, without creating any precedent which riparian owners can use to support their case. Despite the hostility shown by a relatively small number of contributors to this forum over the Barle arrangement I still feel that this is a positive way forward during the current legal uncertainty.
    I wish I had a clear understanding of my rights and status with regard to river access because the only thing I am certain about is that there is no certainty about the legal position. I know what I believe to be morally right, though the riparian owners put a totally different moral argument. I know and like what Caffyn says, but he is just one person expressing an opinion which has not been legally tested. I also know of cases in which the courts have supported the riparian owners view of their rights, and these have been widely reported on this forum. A legal challenge is therefore the only way that this will get sorted and I won't be mortgaging my house to pay the outrageous legal fees to pursue such a case, and I'm not entirely sure that I'd have faith in our legal system to come up with an answer which supports Doug Caffyn's views.

    I think that with the exception of the 2nd para, which I commented on in my last post, Big Henry's post of 3rd March is the most astute, analytical and realistic explanation of the situation that CE finds itself in that I have seen on this site. However, having identified the pitfalls of various approaches he is not able to clearly identify a winning way forward for paddlers, and therein lies the problem for the paddling community.
    Further food for thought, and a healthy counterpoint to the more militant voices here on this board: to my mind, these contributions introduce a much needed dose of realism into discussions - and can we at least get agreement that CE will not be thanked by many if efforts to "improve" our access situation actually lead to the "rights we have as described by Caffyn" being "legally and forever removed".

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Westgarth
    Adam, good luck & thank you for everything you have done to ensure paddling in the South West is the most open throughout England & Wales. I concur with Henry's comments too, CE best policy is a broad approach, stating the different position's legally, and letting paddlers get on with it, neither gaming or condoning them. Local paddler's can talk with local people, and find a way forward, especially as these days, it's quite obvious, paddlers are no longer easy to intimidate with the you're not allowed retort that was so often heard in the past.


    In the end, the best possible outcome, would be for open access in the closed fishing season, and an agreement to paddle when the river is above a specific level when fishing is not done, or between certain times, whilst accommodating specific local conservation concerns. Management agreements are for us in England & Wales the likely outcome, which is what already occurs in numerous places kayakers travel too already. It's a question of whom will swing the stick at such a forum, as to whether they would actually work though. Still we have become quite good and knowing the local situations and paddling a lot, and easily avoiding conflict.
    Simon Westgarth should need no introduction... but to ensure there's no confusion: see http://gene17.com/

  3. #3

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    All our rights, freedom of speech, no imprisonment without due process, the vote etc., etc., .... could all be taken away by a theoretical change in the law. But it seems that may not be necessary because there are those that would surrender them all willingly - for fear of something worse!

    The ultimate defender of all rights is the courts. That's why the government often seems to find it's policies frustrated by courts. Sometimes it cost's money to fight for those rights. But sometimes you get a decision to clarify your rights that somebody else pays for. Such a case was Yorkshire Derwent Trust v Brotherton. Aspects of the case went to the Court of Appeal and then the House of Lords. One of the rulings that emerged was that it was nonsense to have a public navigation without a public right of navigation. So where a public navigation was created by Act of Parliament at the very least the Act created a right of navigation by implication. (At best it would be evidence that it was unnecessary to create a right of navigation because it had always existed as argued by Douglas Caffyn). That is as clear and unambiguous as knowledge of the law can be. And at this point it's free. It's already paid for!

    And yet we still have many navigations created by Acts of Parliament (which have not been repealed) that are still canoeing "no go areas". The Itchen, The Hampshire Avon, the Arun etc., etc., .

    None of us have a single right that someone else didn't have to win or defend for us - or a single example of where appeasement didn't prove to be the start of a slippery slope.

    "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" - Franklin D. Roosevelt.
    Keith

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    While I'm neither here nor there with its conclusions, I think the above argument is premised on a handful of fairly unlikely worst-case scenarios, Greg. And if the English legal system honestly only works for those with enough cash to keep the cogs turning, I think that river access is the least of your problems. You should all be on the streets demanding a radical reform of the juridical system.

    Cheers. Jacob.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by KeithD View Post
    None of us have a single right that someone else didn't have to win or defend for us - or a single example of where appeasement didn't prove to be the start of a slippery slope.

    "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" - Franklin D. Roosevelt.
    Stirring words, Keith... but just to be clear, I don't think anyone's suggesting anything different...

    Even where "Access Agreements" are negotiated as a short term expedient to avoid "confrontation and challenge", this is explicitly done without prejudice to the view we hold that we should not need an agreement:

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Box
    Whilst negotiating new CE agreements on SW rivers I have insisted that the pre-amble to the arrangement includes a paragraph which makes it clear that the different parties have different views on the legal situation with regard to access, and that we (CE & canoeists generally) do not accept the traditional views of the riparian owners. It concludes with a sentence along the lines of 'The aim of this arrangement is to allow canoeing to take place without confrontation or challenge, and without prejudice to the views of either Canoe England or riparian owners'.*
    IN short: "we'll go with this, but that doesn't mean we're conceding the argument over river access".

    We've also seen a number of documents which flag up a difference of opinion between CE and Government / other partners over Access Agreements as the way forward: that's CE working in partnership in the interests of canoeists here and now... but without prejudice to the longer game of establishing an improved access situation.

    Where the realism comes in, for me, is with recognition of the very real need to stack the odds in our favour before bringing the access matter to a head. That doesn't mean "do nothing": that means work hard to get Caffyn taken seriously, to get widespread questioning of the moral case of the riparian landowners, to get acceptance that the canoeist's case deserves to be actively supported.

    We don't seem to have much recognition on here that arguments in favour of riparian rights are going to resonate strongly in any debate... and any realism over what would count as a "best case scenario" in current lifetimes. This brings me back to Simon's point:

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Westgarth
    [Our short-medium term desired outcome should] be for open access in the closed fishing season, and an agreement to paddle when the river is above a specific level when fishing is not done, or between certain times, whilst accommodating specific local conservation concerns. Management agreements are for us in England & Wales the likely outcome, which is what already occurs in numerous places kayakers travel too already.
    Simon's not being defeatist, or urging appeasement, in putting that forward: he's just encouraging us to set our sights on something achievable!
    Last edited by GregandGinaS; 6th-March-2012 at 09:06 AM.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by GregandGinaS View Post
    he's just encouraging us to set our sights on something achievable!
    It's a very meagre objective if that's all there is. - Our objective is to be allowed to pick up the scraps that no-one else wants!

    And then what?
    Keith

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by KeithD View Post
    It's a very meagre objective if that's all there is. - Our objective is to be allowed to pick up the scraps that no-one else wants!
    Well, 15th March to 15th June (inclusive) is 1/4 of the calendar year... and for fair weather paddlers... that's almost 1/2 the season: not an ideal long term outcome (especially for the hard core of year-round paddlers) but in areas where access is a major issue (and I don't think that's everywhere)... that would strike me as a good start.

    My biggest concern would be protecting the de-facto access we currently have in so many rivers where canoeists don't currently see a major access issue - we don't want to encourage tighter restrictions in those parts of the country where de-facto access isn't such a major issue!

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by GregandGinaS View Post
    Well, 15th March to 15th June (inclusive) is 1/4 of the calendar year... and for fair weather paddlers... that's almost 1/2 the season: not an ideal long term outcome (especially for the hard core of year-round paddlers) but in areas where access is a major issue (and I don't think that's everywhere)... that would strike me as a good start.

    My biggest concern would be protecting the de-facto access we currently have in so many rivers where canoeists don't currently see a major access issue - we don't want to encourage tighter restrictions in those parts of the country where de-facto access isn't such a major issue!
    Get a life.!!!!!

    Not all paddlers are hard core and I guess there are a lot of fair weather paddlers ME included.
    And Yes access is not good in this area..

    Fair weather paddlers still support Canoe and Kayack shops and also support the Access issues.

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    What is a public right of navigation?

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by GregandGinaS View Post
    My biggest concern would be protecting the de-facto access we currently have in so many rivers where canoeists don't currently see a major access issue - we don't want to encourage tighter restrictions in those parts of the country where de-facto access isn't such a major issue!
    You can't protect de facto access by accepting that you need permission to paddle there. If they can give permission they can take it away ....... on a whim! You can only protect it by gaining recognition that we paddle there by right not by the generosity of others.

    But if there is no issue about access on particular rivers (if there is al least tacit agreement that paddlers have a right to be there) I suggest that we simply record this fact for the benefit of those that don't know and get on with paddling there in a way that recognises and responds to the rights of others and the environment. Use the access map - click on the river in question, then on "add an access rating" at the bottom of the infobox, select the appropriate rating and make an appropriate comment.
    Keith

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    Something about this discussion reminds me of Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill
    Doug Dew
    "The best is yet to come" My Father


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    let me get this right.
    if i accept there are access agreements then i accept that my paddling is restricted by law.
    if i accept that law, then i forgo my historical right to paddle/use rivers as specified by the rev whatshisname.
    therefore its a no brainer, i will paddle where and when i want in agreement with history and refuse to accept access agreements which be enshrined in law and will further restrict me.
    nature is m X-box

  13. #13

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    We have yet more interesting contributions from Simon Westgarth on UKRGB....

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Westgarth
    Simon, the venom you show on this matter is simply too sharp. And your advise for CE to simply say we do not agree, and we'll not enter any agreements is unpractical, for a massive amount of reasons, more specifically for CE's membership demands. Adam's recent approach to arrive at an accord that outlines that the legal point of view is different, and both parties undertake each others wishes is the way to move forward. Like many others on here, do we really want a legal challenge, can we afford it to go all the way to appeal and beyond. I doubt it. We need local people shaping local decisions. The paddling community has more muscle these days, mainly as there are very tangible incomes for local people for paddling destinations, and most previous arguments along conservation grounds, have been proved misleading or simply wrong. Adam and his team have help shape these outcomes in the South West. I've sat in meetings with all the concerned parties, and at the end of the day, we talk to each other, and arrange at an accord. My advise to the last one of these meetings, was you can not stop paddlers coming, if you carry on saying you're not allowed, in the end the paddlers will stop listening, everyone needs to be ask the right questions, how can paddling not effect others.


    In my life time, we've come a long way in the access debate, we pretty much have near uncontested paddling in the closed game fishing season, and outside a few minor river side discussions with others, we are closer to where a workable end point is, than you think. A change in the legal position is unlikely to go our way, where working with interested parties is the only way to resolve conflict before it becomes intractable. And Simon, its here where your efforts would be of use, not throwing demands with red blood coursing through your veins at the converted. If you wish to shout, simply get yourself down to a local fishing club, and debate it out with them. Belittling Adam's efforts is in my view quite disrespectful, whether you agree with them or not, we are further forward now than we were 20 years ago, and people like Adam are the ones to thank.
    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Westgarth
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark R
    Their actions were understandable in the climate of 10-15+ years ago, but would be wholly unacceptable now; this is why I was so critical of CE SW getting involved in the new Barle 'Agreement'/ restrictions. This is why entering into any new 'Agreement'/ restrictions on the Dart - at a point where no one at all is pretending that anyone is following any 'Agreement'/ restrictions beyond simple common sense - would be wholly unacceptable: setting the clock backwards.



    I do not agree, most paddlers keep to the spirit of the of the old agreement, but never the letter of the agreement. The reality on the ground is paddling happens when fishing does not and vice verse. There are a handful of days during Summer floods that a few locals go paddling, and on these days little fishing if any is undertaken, so we do not have a conflict unless we wish to look for one.


    In speaking with the guys who fish on the Dart, very few fish for salmon, they mainly go for sea trout, which is a twilight or night time pursuit for most. I understand salmon fishing is a little to lively for the demographic! One of the issues from the fishing point of view is that they are somewhat regulated and paddling is not, this paddlers free for all in their eyes is an impress they simply can not overcome. Further to the concern is that they fear the large Winter weekend crowds in the middle of the Summer, and as such are not willing to entertain Summer spate agreements.


    Very few local paddlers come across fishermen in the Summer on spate runs. One thing we could do is understand a little more about fishing, game fishing is different from course fishing. On flat rivers, paddlers avoid the maggot bombers and move to the far side, where as a game fishermen would be stalking the fish often from the opposite side, so a paddler needs to pass close to the fishermen. Still I always wait until they are ready for myself to pass, it's often nice to watch them at work.
    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Westgarth
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark R
    We're saying the same thing. The point is that - even on an extremely popular river like the Dart - paddlers do not nowadays require negotiated restrictions to gain access to, and to enjoy appropriately, their natural river heritage.

    May be but from different standing points. The access situation has moved on from the traditional agreements, and paddlers generally keep to the spirit of the original agreements, where as you suggested, paddlers go paddling because they can. We have arrived at this point because of the changes to the agreement, and an understanding we share the rivers with others, not because it's a god given right to go paddling.


    Personally I have an accord with yourself, but that is not the reality on the ground. Perhaps though, the old agreements what war win the 1990's policed by local canoe clubs were so poor and restrictive, people just though sod this nonsense and simply decided to go paddling when there is water in the river. No doubt the coming of the internet with access to real time data, opened up more possibility to paddle. None the less there are 100's of paddlers on a May Bank Holiday paddling the loop, and if it was all about rights, they might be, but they don't. Even if the level was on the slab at Newbridge all week, and it was updated so, I still very much feel paddlers would not come out of the now established paddling season.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GregandGinaS View Post
    We have yet more interesting contributions from Simon Westgarth on UKRGB....
    You do like to quote Mr Westgarth, so I will too.

    the old agreements were so poor and restrictive, people just though sod this nonsense and simply decided to go paddling when there is water in the river
    And the same will happen to the new ones too.

  15. #15

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    Oh boy.. I do despair for the situation in England and Wales.
    A friend and I were out paddling the other day and came across several fishermen. One seen us approach and we started chatting. He then started to reel his line in "I'll just get this out of your way". I wish it was like that for all of you. For my part in the access issue, I will do what I can as a "canoe tourist" to make the point if travelling to England/Wales. I will write in advance of any trip asking about access from the local tourist board.. MP.. whoever I can. Certainly I have this forum to plan.. but they don't know that.. nor should they. The situation is ridiculous and CE should be co-ordinating with other affected groups/NGB's. Sitting on the fence is simply not good enough!
    "If you are not part of the solution, maybe you are part of the problem!"

    Recreational paddler & outdoor activity instructor

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    Quoting from other sites is all very well, but it is highly selective and doesn't include any counter arguments posted there.

    Also, do the original posters want their posts selectively cut and pasted onto other sites? Copying their views without giving them a chance to expand on or defend them strikes me as a little unfair.

    I would suggest that it is better to provide a link to those sites, if required, and let readers view the whole debate and judge for themselves. They can also join in there, and seek further information.

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  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crow View Post
    Quoting from other sites is all very well, but it is highly selective and doesn't include any counter arguments posted there.
    When you're putting forward an argument, you present your evidence accordingly. I prefer to see verifiable sources... and sources in the public domain... and the use of key passages (rather than the uncritical reproduction of extensive content.

    As I understand it, that's a "best practise" approach, and above reproach on copyright grounds, etc.

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    "Best practice" according to whom?

    Please quote verifiable sources for that.




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    Selectively quoting some blokes forum comments on mass equals "best practice" now? Any academic worthy of their qualifications would find that statement laughable. Now, If you're trying for integrity, why not add some wikipedia quotes...
    Last edited by sohojacques; 14th-March-2012 at 07:46 PM.

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    Default A bit of surrealism

    There's what strikes me as an interesting debate going on the Sounds of the 70s Forum on water access which chimes in with what some folks might feel is a kinda more constructive dose of surrealism than heretofore quoted by those nasty noisy shouty types.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Hues Corporation
    So I'd like to know where, you got the notion. Said I'd like to know where, you got the notion. To rock the boat, don't rock the boat baby. Rock the boat, don't tip the boat over!

    On the other hand Eddie counters with the plainly unrealistic and potentially harmful:

    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie And The Hot Rods
    Why don't you ask them [I believe he is referring to Canoe England] what they expect from you? Why don't you tell them what you're gonna do? You get so lonely, maybe it's better that way. It ain't you only, you got something to say. Do anything you wanna do!

    But HC proposes a more gradual and conciliatory message to the BCU/CE regarding the Access Campaign, which strikes me as pretty darn authoritative.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hues Corporation
    Ever since our voyage of love began your touch has thrilled me like the rush of the wind and your arms have held me safe from a rolling sea. There's always been a quiet place to harbour you and me. Our love is like a ship on the ocean, we've been sailing with a cargo full of, love and devotion. So I'd like to know where, you got the notion. Don't rock the boat baby!








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