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Waterway Access Arrangements

As described in the Waterway Access and the Law page access to and along water can be difficult for paddlers, with varied interpretations of the law regarding navigation.

Faced with this, and the ever increasing unmet demand for access to water, British Canoeing has worked, in line with our Access Position Statement to develop Access Arrangements (AAs) for over 50 years. These are aimed at bringing different user groups on the water, including landowners and other water users, together to negotiate fair arrangements for shared use of our waterways. This approach has however met with very little success. Recent government research for canoe access on the Rivers Mersey and Waveney has produced principles of what we believe to be a benchmark for AAs. Our view is that these principles can form the basis of government policy and a national standard for AAs. The research has demonstrated it is possible to achieve:

  • All year round access supported by an Access Code outlining responsibilities of all water users
  • Environmental protection as appropriate e.g. setting mutually agreed minimum river levels
  • Respect for flora, fauna, and other users
  • Identified sites for launching and landing
  • Publicity and information dissemination of AAs

We take a pragmatic view of the shared use of rivers as highlighted in our Position Statement for the Shared Use of Rivers.

Developing Access Arrangements

Despite the limited success in negotiating arrangements in the past, British Canoeing continues to take a pragmatic approach to this issue, and is committed to continuing to develop fair arrangements where possible. This approach is detailed in our Access Position Statement, which has provided the means of entering into Access Arrangements (AAs) and fulfils the government’s criteria. Namely, that they should be developed on a joint local management basis that helps to protect the natural environment and respect the rights of other user interests. It also understands and caters for the need of individuals, or small organisations, to have AAs to ensure they have a greater certainty of access at a particular time and place.

For Access Arrangements to work they are dependent on other water users and the riparian owners commitment for secure access managed on a self-regulatory management basis. We encourage all paddlers to follow the guidelines of such arrangements, where they can be demonstrated to have engaged all water users and provide fair provisions for the shared use of our waterways