SACC - Sustainable Access Campaign Cymru

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© 2013-17

Access to Inland Water


In June 2010 the Third Assembly's Sustainability Committee published a report on its Inquiry into Access to Inland Water. The report can be seen here (PDF 491KB)...

The Committee recommended (Recommendations 5 to 8) that legislation should be introduced to identify a lead authority for the identification of areas of inland water where access agreements are appropriate and for the negotiation of voluntary access agreements for non-motorised recreational purposes in those areas. It also recommended that power should be given to the lead authority to designate such bodies of water as ones to which access rights would attach compulsorily if no voluntary agreement could be reached. Furthermore, the Committee recognised that at that time neither the Welsh Ministers nor the Assembly had the legislative competence to implement these particular recommendations and recommended that such legislative competence was sought as soon as possible.

Following the 'yes' vote in the referendum on Assembly law-making powers in March 2011, the power to legislate in this area was devolved to Wales.

In October 2011 the Welsh Government provided an update on its response to recommendations made by the Committee (attached). The Welsh Government stated that it did not intend to bring forward legislation at that time. It preferred to evaluate the success of delivering new and improved access on a voluntary basis before deciding whether a mandatory approach was necessary.

It is indeed very unfortunate, that the progression of signing up to local voluntary access agreements by canoeists has been hampered by the refusal of the British Canoe Union and Canoe Wales to promote such agreements. Whilst Canoe Wales state that they cannot act as brokers or indeed sign any agreements, they have not been encouraging their membership to supports LVAAs in the hope of persuading Welsh Government to legislate in their favour as per their previous failed campaign for “free and unfettered access” to the rivers in Wales. It is hoped that canoeists who wish to explore further opportunities to access water via local voluntary access agreements will write to SACC using the online form to declare their expression of interest.

Access to Land

It is fair to say that there is a need for a rationalisation on the public rights of way system. For example, as legislation currently stands it is a very complex, costly and time consuming process should you wish to divert a footpath from a farm yard and any improvement to simplify this would be welcome. Resources need to be targeted at managing and improving the already available routes. The general public need to be safe in the knowledge of where they can and can’t go and an improvement in signage and information sharing would greatly benefit and address this need. Any proposals concerning access to land (and also to water) should be demand led and based on sound evidential research and it should not interfere with legitimate land use activities nor should it compromise ecosystems and habitats.

Whilst reviewing access to land legislation, agricultural practices must be held in high regards and issues such as potential crop damage, disturbance of livestock and the control of dogs need to be greatly considered and methods of protection be put in place.



Welsh Government's Current Position (2013)

The Minister for Culture and Sport, John Griffiths AM, recently announced a review of existing legislation and guidance relating to access and outdoor recreation at the Royal Welsh Show in July. The aim is to secure better access to the outdoors for recreation, modernise and simplify the current regulatory framework, and provide clarity and certainty over where people can go and what they can do there. This will take forward the Programme for Government commitments to improve access to the outdoors and to legislate for the amount of land that is available for allotments.

The work will focus on three main areas:

The review will take place in discussion with interested parties across local authorities, user groups and landowning interests. A green paper consultation is scheduled to be published in December 2013. As part of pre-consultation discussions Welsh Government is hosting three workshops across Wales with stakeholder organisations. A workshop on the 5th September considered in particular the issues raised on access to inland water, and a number of angling, other recreational interests, landowners, and local authorities attended and raised their concerns.

The Welsh Government has since posted some further information on its website here: Review of Access and Outdoor Recreation Legislation… and issued this discussion document (PDF 43KB)…