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​Access and Environment Advisory Group

In 2017 the ‘Waterways and Environment Operations Group’ (WEOG) was replaced with a new advisory group.

The new ‘Access and Environment Advisory Group’ (AAG) was formed to take a fresh approach to consultation between British Canoeing and independent and passionate volunteers who want to see more people actively using waterways in a responsible and sustainable manner.

The new Access and Environment Advisory Group met three times throughout 2017 in Nottingham, Birmingham and Bristol. In 2018 the group will meet at least quarterly.

Membership of the group has been drawn from staff and volunteers who are actively involved in a range of access and environmental work, covering both England and Wales.

Access and Environment Group members:

  • Richard Atkinson, (Chair) Waterways and Environment Policy Officer, British Canoeing
  • Ben Seal, Places to Paddle Manager, British Canoeing
  • Chantelle Grundy, Access & Environment Officer, British Canoeing
  • Steve Rayner, Access Officer, Canoe Wales
  • Keith Day, River Access For All (RAFA)
  • Pam Bell, Waters of Wales (WoW)
  • Douglas Caffyn, Independent
  • Bruce Buckland, Independent
  • Brevan Miles, Independent
  • Chris Page, Independent

Throughout 2017, the core group was joined by other individuals, who brought in additional expertise, knowledge or perspectives to certain meetings. This will continue to be the case for future meetings as and when required.

Purpose of the group 

  • Provide a two‐way communication mechanism between British Canoeing and external organisations.
  • Developing, scrutinising and monitoring British Canoeing policy relating to access.
  • Report and make recommendations to the British Canoeing Board and Senior Management team where appropriate.
  • Promote and develop policies for canoeing in ways which are compatible with the protection of the natural environment.
  • Develop partnerships with statutory bodies and other organisations as appropriate.
  • Represent the practical needs of the canoeing community and affiliated organisations to fulfil the requirements of the Stronger Together principle.
  • Assist is raising the profile of access and environment work carried out by British Canoeing.
  • Review, monitor and report on the effectiveness and efficiency of British Canoeing Access work, on behalf of the wider membership.

2017 Annual Report Highlights:

British Canoeing President Ivan Lawler attended the meeting in Birmingham and agreed to champion the access and environment aims and objectives.

Representation via Canoe Wales, on the Welsh Government’s consultation ‘Taking Forward Wales ‐ sustainable management of natural resources.’ The response was well received and led to a meeting with representatives of the Welsh Assembly ‐ Catrin Dell (Senior Access and Outdoor Recreation Officer) and John Watkins (Head of Landscape and Outdoor Recreation) to discuss a more detailed response to the consultation.

Review and input into the new draft British Canoeing Access and Environment Charter and post Brexit document ‘Unlocking Potential’ – a vision for canoeing, countryside access and post‐Brexit rural policy.

The group assisted discussions between paddlers and the Environment Agency on the confirmation that the River Ouse in Sussex has a Public Right of Navigation for paddlers, at and upstream of Barcombe Mills, on the Sussex Ouse. This continues to be disputed by some other users.

Members of the group were able to attend Political Party Conferences to raise the profile and campaign to highlight the lack of access to and along contested waters.

The group is now a proactive and diverse group including well‐established access campaigners, academics, and political party activists from both Wales and England to assist British Canoeing full‐time staff and waterways volunteers.

The group does not always agree on matters but it is important that an understanding of each members’ needs and constraints are appreciated.

Involvement of external organisations will allow the group to be both selective and objective, plus help develop partnerships with both important navigation and conservation organisations such as Natural England, Environment Agency, Sport and Recreation Alliance, Wildlife and Countryside Link and Inland Waterways Association amongst several others.

Relevant information will continue to be disseminated back to the regional development teams. Volunteers will represent the various regions situated in the North, Central and South of England.