Ambition six in Stronger Together aims to improve access and promote environmental awareness and to that end, British Canoeing has launched its Access and Environment Charter - Clear Access, Clear Waters - a campaign which sets out a vision to confirm access to the rivers and inland waters of England and to protect the environment.
It brings together the views of members, the wider paddling community and other key stakeholders to clarify our vision for fair, shared, sustainable open access to water.
Based around three key pledges it sets out our vision and ask of the Government to address the matter of public access on water and protection of our environment.
Working with MPs, key stakeholders such as DCMS, Wildlife and Countryside Link, Inland Waterways Association and Canal & Rivers Trust, the Charter we have brought Ambition Six to life.
The Charter is based on three key pledges:
British Canoeing will do the following:
1. Champion the case for fair, shared, sustainable open access on and along inland waters to be confirmed in law
2. Continue to act to protect and improve the health of our rivers, working to protect, preserve and enhance the natural environment
3. Commit to inspire more people to be active outdoors; connecting people with their environment and promoting the benefits on mental and physical well-being
How can you help?
We achieve much more when we work together, with those individuals and organisations who want to play their part in building an even brighter future for the sport in England and the UK. When the paddling community gets behind national campaigns, we make an incredibly positive impact. Getting involved in things like river cleans and ‘check, clean, dry’ are fantastic - shouting about them is just as important!
Be a Champion!
We need people to carry the #ClearAccessClearWaters message far and wide, beyond just the paddling community. Whether that is on social media or through involvement in a local forum, it is vital we get our voice heard! There are lots of ways you can influence your local waterway; access forums, catchment partnerships, neighbourhood forums. We must take every opportunity to talk up the benefits of paddlesport and the importance of fair, shared, sustainable open access on water.
Know what is on your doorstep:
It is really important to have a good understanding on what is happening locally. Where are the main challenges and opportunities? Where are the good examples that can be shouted about? Where are the major problems that need to be raised? Who are the key players who need to be engaged (waterway authorities, local authorities, conservation bodies, other water users?
Contact your local MP
Talking directly to your MP about how access issues specifically directly affect you will be critical in raising the profile of our Clear Access, Clear Waters campaign in Government. We suggest writing a letter to your MP to request a meeting at one of their surgeries. MP's receive thousands of emails, so sending a letter in the post often is a better way of getting their attention.
Our ask of Government is contained in the Charter and advice on how to write to your MP is available here.
What has even greater impact is to invite your MP along to experience paddlesport first hand! Get them along to a clean up event or simply an open day and use the opportunity to ask them to support our campaign.
Share the Space
It is up to us all to set an example of how we want to see our rivers fairly, shared by all users. Consider your actions when out paddling, be sensitive to other users, always consider the impact you are having on the environment, aim to minimise disturbance and leave no trace. Respect private land when accessing the water and be sensitive to local residents.
If approached regarding your right to be on the water, remain polite and calm and seek a positive resolution.
Let’s lead by example and share the space with respect.
Fair, shared, sustainable open access - it’s time to make it happen!